It often surprises people to learn that censorship remains an active threat to learning in the U.S. Many books which people loved as children or study now in college have been or still are challenged or banned in schools, libraries, and bookstores across the country. (“Challenge” is the initial complaint; “ban” is the follow-up removal of the material.) There is a pretty lengthy list of challenged and banned titles, most of which can be found on the American Library Association’s website. Each entry on the list is accompanied by the reason for the initial challenge or ban. You will recognize many favorites; in addition, proudly note that works by two authors on the list—Garry Trudeau and George Orwell—are featured in special MCC programming this semester.
This inaugural Banned Books Reading is particularly apropos of the 2018 AhFest theme of “Truth.” In these topsy-turvy times when factual reporting is discredited as “fake news” and lies are accepted as facts, it is sadly consistent that misguided censors assert narrow readings of literature as definitive and final. The further irony, as we know, is that these acts of censorship restrict our access to literature’s vital truths about the human experience.
Here’s how you can prepare to participate:
Pick a title from the attached list—or any other source—and note the reason for the literary work’s challenge or ban. Lisa Anderson in the library can also help with the search.
Skim the work, even if it is an online version.
Locate a brief excerpt which illustrates the reason for the ban: Profanity? Sexual explicitness? The occult? Criticism of political leadership? Minority groups depicted favorably (or depicted unfavorably, since censors come from the political left as well as the right)? Aim for about three minutes of reading time or 375 words, though this target is up to your discretion.
Prepare a brief statement which sets the context of the passage by revealing what is happening in the book, story, or poem where the passage occurs. That’s it!
If you plan to participate, please let me know by Thursday, September 20, so I can prepare a program. All I will need is the reader’s name and the title of the selected literary. Know too that people may read beyond the 3:30 ending time.
Feel free to contact me for more information.
Theresa M. Kanoza
Instructor of English
Muskegon Community College
American cartoonist Garry Trudeau is a New York native who rose to fame after his cartoon strip “Doonesbury”. “Doonesbury” was launched in 1970, and now appears in nearly 1400 daily and Sunday newspaper clients in the U.S. and abroad. His work has been collected in 60 hardcover, trade paperback and mass-market editions, which have cumulatively sold over 7 million copies worldwide. In 1975, Trudeau became the first comic strip artist ever to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. He timely hits the headlines for mocking President Donald Trump via his cartoons. Trudeau is also known for the political comedy series Alpha House (2013), Tanner ’88 (1988), and A Doonesbury Special (1977).
Book sales, wine and beer sales in the lobby, live music before and after event!