Senseless Violence: The NYPD Destroys Library. UPDATE #3

Occupy Wall Street Library (before) Occupy Wall Street Library (after) “I cannot live without books; but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.” — Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 10 June 1815 “Knowledge is power.” — Thomas Jefferson to to Joseph Cabell, 22 January 1820 “Let me conclude by thanking the

Why Meghan Can’t Read

In an op-ed piece that the Wall Street Journal published as an article, Meghan Cox Gurdon criticizes contemporary young adult fiction for its darkness. As she writes, “it is … possible–indeed, likely–that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people

Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Offensiveness

Yes, you’ve all heard about NewSouth Press publishing Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer without the “n” word.  But a couple of important points are getting lost in all the uproar. As Natalia Cecire points out on her blog, the “political correctness” circus-goers are missing the point. I find it more noteworthy that such Bowdlerization is

Book-Banners Hurt Young People

As I look at the American Library Association’s lists of Banned and Challenged Books, one recurring theme emerges: most (though not all) depict difficulties faced by children and teens. Though the motive for banning books is protection, restricting access to these books hurts the children and teens who are most in need of them.  Laurie

Speaking Out

Wesley Scroggins, Associate Professor of Management at Missouri State University, thinks that Laurie Halse Anderson‘s Speak (1999) is “soft pornography.”  Having read and taught Speak many times, I suspect that Mr. Scroggins either lacks some basic literary skills (such as how to detect tone) or is in need of psychological counseling. As an English professor,

Can Censoring a Children’s Book Remove Its Prejudices?

When I posted news of my “Censoring Children’s Literature” course last month, several people (well, OK, one person …maybe two) expressed an interest in hearing more about the course.  So, given that Banned Books Week is coming up next week, here’s an update. Having lately been examining two versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle (1920,

Censoring Children’s Literature, Fall 2010

Sometimes, a new course draws on my expertise.  Other times, a new course is a chance for me to develop that expertise.  This class — “Censoring Children’s Literature” — is definitely the latter.  I have an interest in the subject, and I’ve tried to structure the syllabus around major issues concerning the regulation of what