Restricting, confiscating, banning, burning—the war against books deemed objectionable or dangerous has a long history. From the Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti in 212 B.C.E. to yesterday’s school board meeting, the beat goes on. The reasons may be political, religious, social, sexual, cultural, or defense of the state. In this class, we will explore types and episodes of book banning, as well as specific books that have earned the ire of leaders, interest groups, institutions, and ordinary people.
Pick a book or category of books, or a current or historical book banning effort and explore it with your classmates. Why did it happen? What were the issues? Who were the antagonists? What were/are the implications? What was the outcome? You will find endless possibilities for potential topics and rich opportunities for interesting discussion.