The Modern Surveillance State

As part of this year’s “Secrecy Week” at the University of Utah, the Humanities Center collaborated with the U’s English department in a series of events devoted to exploring the implications of government secrecy and surveillance.

PROVO, Utah (April 8, 2015)—As part of the University of Utah’s “Secrecy Week,” BYU’s Humanities Center collaborated with Utah’s English Department to present “The Modern Surveillance State: Two Views from the 18th Century.” The cosponsored event featured two speakers, English professors Andrew Franta of the University of Utah and Russ Castronovo of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

IMG_1119Franta presented a paper entitled “Surveilling Poets,” examining the effects of state policy and state surveillance through events in the lives of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley and the internalization of observation, or rather societal surveillance.

IMG_1127Castronovo’s presentation expanded on ideas about surveillance from his recent book Propaganda 1776: Secrets, Leaks and Revolutionary Communications of Early America. Castronovo examined 18th century writing by John Locke and Mercy Warren, discussing secrecy in the 18th century and the way surveillance has evolved to questions about national security and communication today.

–Sylvia Cutler (B.A. English/French ’17)

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