Carnegie Mellon University

Freedom To Read

09-22-2010

Celebrating Banned Books Week All Semester Long

Banned Book WeekA new Humanities & Social Sciences class, "Studies in Print Culture: Censored Texts," is examining book censorship from the mid-20th century through the present. This is particularly relevant this time of year because the American Library Association is celebrating Banned Book Week from Sept. 25 though Oct. 2. 

English Professor Kathy M. Newman, who is writing a book on the 1950s — a period of anti-Communist censorship — rolled out the new class this semester.

"These students, many of them born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, have no connection to something like McCarthyism, but they have their own unique experiences with censorship," Newman said. "I was surprised to learn on the first day of class how many of the students had battled their own high school administrations over issues like gay rights and theatrical censorship. These students are fighting new battles, and this class will hopefully give them a historical perspective on their own efforts."

The class, in high-demand from English and drama students, focuses on three types of censorship during America's mid-century: political, racial and sexual. The students will read texts such as Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," Lee's masterpiece and James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" as well as written excerpts from both sides of the controversies.

Watch the students discuss why Banned Book Week is important to them in this video.

Shilo Raube