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GH 201: Introduction to the Great Works: Banned. Censored. Challenged.

GH 201: Introduction to the Great Works: Banned. Censored. Challenged.

Book banning, book burning, censorship, and suppression of access to art are parts of a disturbing legacy of censorship in America’s past and present. Annually, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom publishes its “Top Ten Most Challenged Books” list in order to inform the public about attempted censorship forced upon collections within libraries and schools (ALA’s Banned and Challenged Books). According to the ALA, approximately “82%—97% of book challenges remain unreported each year.”

Censorship has not only targeted books. Films, comic books, common art forms, and music have also experienced censorship and suppression—historically through present day.

Many materials considered great works have been (and still are) banned, burned, challenged, suppressed, and/or removed from public circulation in America’s history. Books, films, and comic books have fallen victim to censorship movements and government action.

This course will explore America’s history of banning and suppressing great works of art—in this case: books, comic books, and films—while interrogating what qualifies as a great work. The ALA’s historical lists serve as our starting point. In addition to readings/viewing primary sources, this class will explore the larger conversations around selected works to understand why specific materials were/are banned, censored, challenged, and suppressed while learning about historical and current efforts to battle censorship movements.

Instructor: Professor Matt Bird

Matt Bird graduated from Indiana State University (B.S. in English) and IU—Bloomington (M.L.S. w/ Rare Books and Manuscripts specialization). He is the Student Research and Engagement Coordinator for the ISU Honors College. Matt’s historical Honors course offerings include the topics of classical mythology, book and library history, film/culture history, and weird fiction.

Please contact Professor Bird if you have questions about this course.