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Areopagitica and Free Speech

This is because it is one of the first documents in English to address the question of speech from an affirmative perspective. Prior to Milton’s era in England, it would have largely been unthinkable to imagine that the written speech of an individual would not be subject to institutional regulation. It was in fact much more reasonable to imagine that institutions would simply need to regulate speech than to imagine that speech might have a value beyond the purview of church and state. For this assignment, I want you to apply Milton’s thinking in Areopagitica to a contemporary issue related to free expression, to see how his thinking connects, or does not connect, to the way that we talk about speech now.  Start by researching a topic that is of interest to you. Contemporary topics might include things like no-platforming, Facebook and/or Twitter speech policies, college campus speech, paid “speech” in advertisements, “fake news,” election interference, cancel culture, Colin Kaepernick, protest, book banning, etc….Once you’ve got a topic, find at least one essay or article from a reputable source to include in your discussion. A reputable source in this case should be an established news or opinion publication. You can include other kinds of sources as well, if you want but you need the established publication to be sure. Finally, write your essay with a thesis or argument about the topic, in which you argue specifically what you think of the issue, and what you think Milton’s thinking in “Areopagitica” might add to it. Then, spend the rest of the essay supporting this claim. Over the course of the essay, you should quote at least once from the source you’ve found to work with, and twice from “Areopagitica.” Nuts and Bolts: MLA formatted; 700 words. Quotation of at least two passages from Areopagitica and one from the secondary source.

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