HON293C: Literary Scandals and Controversies

An archived version of a 2007 NCSU course blog

Final Exam time

Since the whole class has expressed a desire to take the final exam early, I thought we might use this blog post to try to agree on a single time before the scheduled date, which is Tuesday May 8, 1-4pm. Please note that I can’t give the exam before May 1st or outside of allowed exam hours (e.g., after 9pm). I’m not done writing the exam yet, so I don’t know how long it will take, but you’re entitled to the full three hours.

Please post a comment to this post and say whether you’re willing to take the exam at each of the following times:

  1. Tuesday, May 1, 1-4pm
  2. Wednesday, May 2, 8-11am
  3. Wednesday, May 2, 1-4pm
  4. Wednesday, May 2, 6-9pm
  5. Thursday, May 3, 8-11am
  6. Thursday, May 3, 6-9pm
  7. Friday, May 4, 8-11am
  8. Friday, May 4, 1-4pm
  9. Friday, May 4, 6-9pm

A simple 1.=yes 2.=no 3.=yes format in your response will be fine.


Course Evaluations

Don’t forget to submit an evaluation for this course at http://classeval.ncsu.edu anytime between April 16 and April 29. For help, e-mail ClassEval@help.ncsu.edu.

Danish cartoons controversy

Here’s the Wikipedia article on the Danish cartoons controversy. See especially the section on Reprinting in other newspapers, which notes that “Notable for a lack of republication of the cartoons were most major newspapers in the USA[41] and the United Kingdom,[42] where editorials covered the story without including them. Several newspapers were closed and editors fired or arrested for their decision or intention to re-publish the cartoons, including the shutting down of a 60 year old Malaysian newspaper permanently.”

One U.S. publication that did reprint the original cartoons was Harper’s magazine, in the June 2006 article “Drawing Blood”, by Art Spiegelman of Maus fame. But even this publication, or perhaps Art Spiegelman, appears to still be worried about reproducing the images online, even in a database that only universities and libraries are likely to subscribe to. While many if not most of the major articles from Harper’s are available to us through the NCSU Libraries, this article has the following caveat attached to it: “This database normally includes full text of articles available from this publication. However, this particular article is not included at the request of the rights holder.” To be fair, several other articles from Harper’s are so marked, though not usually cover stories, as far as I can tell.

I seem to recall that Spiegelman wrote that the most offensive cartoon was probably not the one depicting Mohammed with a bomb in his turban but the one in which the prophet appears to have a halo, but, upon closer examination, has horns.

Rushdie Affair

Had there been any other novels before that caused as much of an uproar in the Muslim community as Rushdie’s book, or have there been any since?

Rushdie Affair

Have Muslim groups in the UK and Muslim countries ever banded together in an attempt to get another book (besides the Satanic Verses) banned for blasphemy? What are England’s blasphemy laws; are they still in existence? Have they been applied in recent history?

Rushdie Affair

(Small question) Rushdie is consistently crude towards different races and religions. On Page 47, Pipes states, “Rushdie takes particular delight in insulting political leaders.” To go along with an earlier web blog question, what are the limitations in the freedom of speech? How is he able to blatantly insult so many people?
(Main question) Pipes explains the riots and attacks that took place in Pakistan, but was only able to give stipulations for why this event took place. He mentions that the “violence may have been directed toward those in the opposition who wanted to exploit the opportunity to attack Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.” Who was Benazir Bhutto and why were Rushdie and Bhutto long-standing political opponents?

Any Effects?

Did Rushdie’s sentiments towards Americans, Muslims and the British, expressed in The Satanic Verses, effect his status within England’s society, for example the Royal Society of Literature, popularity of his books, writing for columns, etc.?

Freedom of Speech

Is it illegal to make a public statement about a book which you have not even read? Shahbuddin’s statement of “Yes, I have not read it, nor do I intend to. I do not have to wade through a filthy drain to know what filth is” seems unethical if not illegal.


Has Khomeini issued any other fatwas or death warrants against any other prominent people or anyone in his country?


On page 50-51, it says that Rushdie supported and even liked the government in Nicaragua. What kind of govenment is in place for the Sandanistas (monarchy, dictatorship, etc.), and how many rights do the people have? In essence, what makes Nicaragua’s government so different that a pessimist like Rushdie would like it?
I say pessimist because he negatively speaks of most countries and their governments. I can’t seem to think of the appropriate word at the moment.