INSTRUCTOR: Gabriela Alvarez
SECTION: Fall and Spring – U11
SCHEDULE: Thursdays, 12:00-1:15PM (Hybrid)
Book bans are the removal, suppression, or restricted circulation of literary, artistic, or educational material – of images, ideas, and information – that these are morally or otherwise objectionable in the light of standards applied by the censor. The American Library Association states many reasons for censorship, including the material containing or being: anti-ethnic, cultural sensitivity, racism, sexism, anti-family, nudity, offensive language, other offensive items, abortion, drug/alcohol/smoking, gambling, gangs, violence, suicide, homosexuality, sexually explicit, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, occult/Satanism, unsuited for age group, inaccurate, technical errors, and other objections and numerous books have been suppressed “”because of language, racial characterization, or depiction of drug use, social class, or sexual orientation of the characters, or other social differences that the challengers viewed as harmful to the readers.
But who are the censors, and what voices are being silenced? If the overall intent of censorship is to act as “”a kind of safeguard for society, typically to protect norms and values, censorship suppresses what is considered objectionable from a political, moral, or religious standpoint.”” What norms, systems, and perspectives are the censors trying to protect?
This course will focus primarily on young adult novels that have been frequently challenged or successfully banned in schools, libraries, and places that provide reading materials to the public. Many of these stories have main characters who disrespect authority and live outside of societal norms and social rules. Students will explore debates and questions surrounding banned books, such as: what makes a book dangerous? Who do books threaten, and how? Why and how do banned books often join our canons or become bestsellers? How do our attitudes toward art and censorship shape us? How do they shape our world?