Students, faculty embrace banned books
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 00:09
Banned Books Week, a week that commemorates the freedom to read and write books that are considered controversial, will celebrate its 30th anniversary Sept. 30. To Kill a Mockingbird, challenged from 1977 to 2009, and Catcher in the Rye, challenged from 1960 to 2009, are two of the most challenged classics on the Banned Books list.
Although there is not an organized, on-campus celebration for the week, there are Miami University professors and students who speak out in their support for the freedom to read.
According to Brenda Dales, professor emeritus of teacher education, any parent or community member can challenge a book because of personal objections toward the content, but one individual cannot decide the reading choices for an entire population such as a classroom or a library.
“Professional organizations like the American Library Association and the National Council of Teachers of English support intellectual freedom in schools and libraries, and assist teachers with guidelines, information and procedures regarding how to combat censorship,” Dales said.
These organizations are essential because they support the book-selection and re-evaluation procedures of the schools and libraries, protecting their freedom to select reading materials that they consider to be age-appropriate for students and library goers, Dales said. She includes information from these organizations in her courses so that future teachers are aware that a complaint about a book does not mean they should automatically remove it from their classroom.
Information Services Librarian Arianne Hartsell-Gundy said there have not been any controversies in King Library over the presence of banned books, and if there were any issues of this sort there would be a review process with the dean to resolve the matter.
“Because we are a university library most of the students are 18 or at least of the age to decide what books they would like to read, therefore if a student wishes to read a controversial piece of literature, that is his or her right to do so”, Hartsell-Gundy said.
Junior English Literature major Sylvie Turner said, “I’m fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to read and discuss many controversial books since high school and because of this I feel much more comfortable living in our ever changing world.”
Turner said that although very few of the books she has read in her upper level classes are included in the list of banned books all of them would be considered controversial based on the adult issues of the context.
“I’m fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to read and discuss many controversial books since high school and because of this I feel much more comfortable living in our ever-changing world,” Turner said.
According to Turner, students are often unable to experience certain issues personally, so it’s literature that can step in and allow them to form their own ideas and opinions on certain subjects that aren’t always accessible.
“I think being able place yourself ideologically in society, especially on controversial issues, is one of the most important foundations of adulthood and without a lot of the literature I’ve come into contact with that’d be impossible,” Turner said.