TRAVEL CALENDAR
Go to:
About CK •  Art • Chef • Dance • Jazz • Klassik • Nouveau • Opera • Travel Calendar
Log In • Sign Up
You are in:  Home > Travel Calendar > Pop Culture and Cinema in England   •  send page to a friend




Travel Tip: Pop Culture and Cinema in England
Story of Phi: Restricted Books



Story of Phi: Restricted Books
ENGLAND
OXFORD  •  Bodleian’s Weston Library.  •  15 November 2018 - 13 January 2019
 

The Bodleian Libraries is lifting the lid on its collection of ‘obscene’ and ‘improper’ books in the first ever display of items from the Libraries’ restricted ‘Phi’ category. Story of Phi: Restricted Books explores changing ideas about sexuality and censorship at the Bodleian’s Weston Library.

In the Victorian age, the Bodleian created a restricted library within the Library, a special category for books that were deemed by librarians to be too sexually explicit. These books were given the shelfmark Φ – the Greek letter Phi. Students had to submit a college tutor's letter of support in order to read Phi materials.

The Phi shelfmark was established in 1882 and remained in use until recently. It was designed to protect young minds from material that was considered immoral while also protecting the books themselves from unwanted attention or damage. The c. 3,000 items in the Phi collection are extremely diverse, ranging from scientific works and scholarly studies of ancient cultures to novels that were once controversial but are now recognised as important works of literature. The Phi collection is a valuable sociological snapshot, charting how perceptions of sexuality and appropriateness have changed over time.

Highlights of the Phi collection on display include:

• An illustrated volume of The Love Books of Ovid, which was restricted due to its illustrations while Ovid’s unillustrated erotic poems were freely available on the Libraries’ open shelves

• Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was restricted presumably because of its homoerotic subtext and Wilde’s notoriety

• A signed first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover which was smuggled into Britain in a diplomatic bag in order to evade British censorship laws

• Press clippings related to the restriction of certain medical texts, which were subsequently reclassified and placed on open shelves in the 1930s

• Sex manuals such as the best-seller, The Joy of Sex

• Humorous works such as The Brand New Monty Python Bok [sic], which features a naked posterior on its cover, and The Pop-Up Kama Sutra

• Books about phallic symbolism

• Modern works ranging from Madonna’s book, Sex to the iconic homoerotic drawings of the Finnish artist known as ‘Tom of Finland’

• The first modern European work of pornography, the Satyra Sotadica. Written in Latin in the 17th century, it influenced many later writings on the topic of sex, and a long tradition of using Rome as a model for sexual license and frankness

The free display is curated by Jennifer Ingleheart, Professor of Latin at the University of Durham, and draws on her expertise in obscene works and their reception.



Bodleian’s Weston Library Website


Contact:

Bodleian’s Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG
United Kingdom

 


Tel: 44 1865 277094

More Pop Culture and Cinema Travel Listings:

More England Travel Listings: