What makes a book “bad”? Examining a censorship dispute reveals cultural battlegrounds over topics like sex, race, religion, politics, language, and morality. Student teams will examine a censorship challenge in their locality, placing the censorship theme and the challenged work in local and historical contexts. Potential topics include challenges to school reading curriculum, efforts to ban or burn books, or the work of 19th- and 20th-century anti-vice societies. Students can explore themes such as potential authorial intent, reasons for adoption, and the basis for challenging and/or banning the book from use. Using primary source materials, newspaper coverage, secondary literature, and oral histories, students will tell the stories of these disputes through websites that feature digital visualization tools such as story maps, timelines, or text analysis to add new dimensions to their interpretation.

Rebecca Dierking, Assistant Professor of English Education — Truman State University

Cathy Moran Hajo, Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Jane Addams Papers Project — Ramapo College of New Jersey

Media Credits for the Course Flyer

Book [icon ID 992655]. Created by Arthur Shlain (Pure Lines Collection). Downloaded from thenounproject.com, https://thenounproject.com/icon/992655/ (PNG format). CC BY 3.0 US. Colored and overlaid by Leah Tams.

Fire [icon ID 962983]. Created by Vladimir Belochkin. Downloaded and colored from thenounproject.com, https://thenounproject.com/icon/962983/ (PNG format). CC BY 3.0 US.

No Symbol [icon ID 1168221]. Created by Benjamin Sommerlad (No Collection). Downloaded and colored from thenounproject.com, https://thenounproject.com/icon/1168221/ (PNG format). CC BY 3.0 US. Colored and overlaid by Leah Tams.