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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Directing Professor

Jeanette Barbieri


In 1641, state censorship of the press lapsed in England with the start of the Civil War, causing an explosion of printed material. This project studies the results of that explosion, particularly the development of the English public sphere. Media theorist Jüergen Habermas' classic chronology of the development of the English public sphere is challenged, and laws and pamphlets from this time period are examined to understand how the public sphere emerged, how it functioned, its output, and attempts to control it. The English public sphere emerged as a direct result of the lapse in censorship, and it allowed a much wider range of people to engage in public debates. Several attempts were made to re-impose censorship after 1641, and though they were successful in limiting the number of titles published to a certain extent, they could not restrict the debate that had emerged with the public sphere in 1641.


This thesis was completed as an interdisciplinary history and political science project.

Additional directing professors: Joe Leedom, Rachel Nunez, Jon Bohland.