E.M.Forster, religious broadcasting and the knight row, 1955-1956


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Postwar religious broadcasting in Britain sought to accommodate diverging aims, with public radio as the established arena for Christian evangelism and yet also an emerging forum for dissenting viewpoints in an increasingly faith-averse age. A transitional figure within literary modernism, E. M. Forster embraced broadcast radio in the effort to disseminate culture, even as he sought to make the ethical turn away from culture as religious. Since the 1930s, Forster had consistently supported the airing of such minority viewpoints; after the war, his arguments for ethical alternatives to Christian broadcasting were bolstered by the rise of postwar ecumenism and the Beveridge reforms. Forster's defense of humanist broadcasts given by Margaret Knight in January 1955 effectively highlights the formated nature of on-air debates at the expense of unpopular viewpoints, even as BBC policy-makers were actively considering abandoning existing practices in favor of stand-alone ethical rebuttals to accepted Christian viewpoints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-176
Number of pages18
JournalMedia History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • History

User-Defined Keywords

  • broadcast ethics
  • humanism
  • non-controversial programming policy
  • postwar ecumenism
  • pre-evangelism
  • religious broadcasting


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