Tag Archives: censorship

Great Lit Changes Expectations Horizons

Hans Robert Jauss’s believes that great literature changes horizons of expectation whereas lesser lit simply confirms them. If “Madame Bovary” was brought to trial, Jauss says, it is because it charted a new course in literary history that people didn’t understand.

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i sing of Kaepernick glad and big

The case of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem brings to mind E. E. Cummings’s “i sing of Olaf,” where an American conscientious objector refuses to honor the flag and is tortured.

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Literature as a Public Event

In my Theories of the Reader senior seminar, I will have my students study a literary work that became a public event. In today’s post I list a number of possibilities.

Posted in Hardy (Thomas), King (Lily) | Also tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Stephen Gosson: Unhinged by Lit

Stephen Gosson, a 17th century Puritan and failed playwright, unloads virtually every poet revered in the 17th century. Though we dismiss his words today, they anticipated contemporary attacks on literature/

Posted in Gosson (Stephen), Sidney (Sir Philip) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Helms’s Attack on Marvell’s “Coy Mistress”

Tales of unexpected attacks against great literature: in 1966 Jesse Helms, later a rightwing North Carolina senator, attacked Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” for providing male students a chance to talk about erotic matter in front of female students.

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Let Our Teachers Teach

Monday When I wrote last week about a Virginia legislator attacking teachers for assigning Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I didn’t realize that there was a mother in an adjoining county also going after the book. And unlike the Virginia legislator she gives reasons. Here’s from The Post’s article about Laura Murphy, a Fairfax County mother whose son […]

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A Virginia Legislator Attacks Beloved

A Virginia representative has attacked the teaching of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” calling the novel “moral sewage.” Given the man’s views on spousal rape and abortion, i think I know what scene in the book set him off.

Posted in Morrison (Toni) | Also tagged , | 2 Comments

Criminal Case: Turkish Prez & Gollum

A character analysis of Gollum could determine whether a Turkish doctor goes to jail. This after he tweeted images of the Turkish president that resembled the film’s depiction of Gollum.

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Why It’s Good To Offend Students

An entering Duke student has refused to read Alison Bechdel’s “Fun House.” A professor comes partially to his defense.

Posted in Bechdel (Alison), Brecht (Bertolt), Kafka (Franz) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Warning Labels for the Classics

Suggestions that certain classics come with “trigger warnings” leads of the following reflection.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey), Homer, Milton (John), Sir Gawain Poet, Sophocles, Wilde (Oscar) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Parents, Kids, Schools & Banned Books

Parents pressure schools to ban books because they want to protect their children. Their children want the books because they have a different set of needs.

Posted in Blume (Judy), Chbosky (Stephen), Rowling (J. K.), Salinger (J. D.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When Werther-Fever Upended Europe

Goethe’s “Sorrows of Young Werther” created a sensation in 1774, with a young cult following and older attackers.

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Schools Cowed by the Religious Right

Holly Blumner had a vision. A member of the St. Mary’s theater department, Holly wanted to stage Susan Zeder’s Mother Hicks, a adolescent girl’s identity quest, and then take it into area schools. This post is the story about how rightwing groups have so terrified our schools that the vision died.

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Damn the N-Word, Full Speed Ahead

  Writing about interracial friendships in yesterday’s post brings to mind the most famous interracial friendship in literature, that between Huck and Jim. The novel is once again in the news (is it ever out of it?) with a new edition of the novel where the n-word is changed to “slave.” The edition is the brainchild […]

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The Burning of the Books

In Ben Click’s post yesterday on the banning history of Huckleberry Finn, he tells the story of a man who remembers hearing the book read to him when he was a child in a concentration camp. Horst Kruse never forgot that reading experience and would go on to become a Twain scholar. Ben talks about […]

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Huck Finn’s Censorship History

I have always been fascinated by the many ways that literature influences our lives, but, as a literary scholar, I also know that influence is a very hard thing to prove. That’s why I find censorship to be interesting. When people censor a book, they do so because they assume that it can have an […]

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Ignoring Books–Another Way to Burn Them

Read, reflect, act.  That is my vision for how we should respond to literature.  Therefore I was pleased to see a version of this advice appearing in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.  I’m reading Bradbury’s dystopia because I will be leading a discussion of it tom0rrow as part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big […]

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Honoring Our Inner Wild Rumpus

Illustration from Where the Wild Things Are I see that Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1963) has been turned into a film, which has led Slate columnist Jack Shafer to revisit a controversy about the book. Apparently Sendak still can’t let go of a critique by psychologist Bruno Bettelheim. I was surprised to learn […]

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Danger: Georgian Teens Reading Novels

Samuel Johnson  If we need proof that adolescence has always been a difficult age, we can look at those 18th century moralists that were panicked about young people reading novels. Of course if you’re young (to build off of a comment that Barbara makes in response to Friday’s post), part of the fun of reading […]

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Empowering Conversations about Race

As I look back over this past week of entries, what conclusions can I draw? First, that literature can serve the cause of race relations in this country. The friendship between Huck and Jim spurred my dreams of black-white friendship when I was a child being raised in segregated schools in the south, and it […]

Posted in Morrison (Toni), Twain (Mark) | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

When I Defended Song of Solomon

I think it was 13 years ago or so when I read in our county newspaper that a high school student was objecting to a book he had been assigned to read in an Advanced Placement English class. The book was Toni’s Morrison’s Pulitzer-winning Song of Solomon, a book on the Advanced Placement list, and […]

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Should Huck Finn Be Banned?

How much impact can images from a book like Huckleberry Finn have upon a reader? I’ve written about the importance of Huck’s courageous stand upon me as a young child, so I would answer, “ a tremendous impact.” But could there also be a negative impact? Could the docile and comic Jim undermine the self […]

Posted in Twain (Mark) | Also tagged , | Comments closed

Can Huckleberry Finn Damage Readers?

Yesterday I mentioned that Huckleberry Finn has been banned in some schools, perhaps because of Huck’s liberal use of the “n” word. Now Twain, of course, doesn’t use that language because he himself is racist but because he wants to capture Huck’s “white trash” ignorance, which Huck then magnificently transcends. But the argument has gone […]

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