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The protection of high art in a postmodern age

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posted on 15.12.2014, 10:44 by Dawn Elizabeth. Watkins
This project considers whether it is possible to define some works of literary or visual art as high art solely by virtue of their inherent qualities, or whether there are factors external to the work which are significant to this process of categorisation. Thereafter the project considers whether it is appropriate to argue that high art as a discrete category should be accorded a value of its own to be defended by the legal system alongside or in preference to other values (particularly freedom of speech), focusing initially upon non-legal arguments which have been put forward in this regard. Thereafter, the project critically analyses the way in which the English legal system has dealt with such issues during the period 1780 to date firstly by analysing the approach of the legislature towards the notion of high art and its protection and secondly, by analysing the approach of the courts in this area. Both the courts' role in enforcing statute law and administering the common law are assessed and the extent to which the courts have acknowledged the free speech principle in relation to artistic and non-artistic matter is given particular consideration. Finally, the project considers those international obligations which influence English law in this area, with particular reference to the European Convention on Human Rights and to the recent inclusion of Article 10, the right to freedom of expression, in the Human Rights Act 1998. The extent to which high art might be afforded greater protection under this new Act is considered, and conclusions are drawn as to whether greater protection should be sought for high art under English law and if so, upon what basis.


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University of Leicester

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