Book week banned at University of Charleston | Features

When Marjory Wentworth began her Banned Books course at the University of Charleston, she published a title or two that shared a certain fascination.

They found themselves in the crosshairs of a bookshelf. So they matured, and were called the sacred seeds of great promoters and active mothers. They are fearless names lashed out on social media channels, linked to calls to sue local libraries and angry demands for action from school boards.

He can grab a copy of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which explores antebellum slavery, has often been criticized by those who seek its condemnation, citing language and violence.

Or he’ll name it Harry Potter. In recent years, Voldemort isn’t the only one who’s been getting in the way of a good game of quidditch. Potter’s path is characterized by a supernatural aspect that marks him as opposed to Christian beliefs.

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And the university is heading Banned Books Week, which will be held this year from Sept. 18-25, Wentworth and company are set to play the drums as part of a lively discussion about why and how some novels become electronic.

It was banned from the beginning

Since 2015, the College of Charleston English instructor has covered these and more in courses for both freshmen and advanced students. Most people sign up because they love reading.

In them they reflect on important moments, such as those related to the Harry Potter book series, which was widely banned in America in the 2000s. world

Wentworth, who is the 2020 National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech for me, is a journalist in his own right. He was South Carolina’s first poet laureate. “The banning of books started mainly with the printing press,” he said, then applied to religious matters.

“It’s driven by a kind of fear, and when people are afraid they don’t have to think like that,” he said. Those high expectations can be compounded by misinformation from companies that people don’t research before responding to their cries.

Many banned works are known, such as George Orwell’s “1984,” Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and JD Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.”

“I think one of the most interesting things about banned books is, if you look at (the list of) banned books in history, a lot of them are classics,” Angela said. Craig, director of the Charleston County Public Library.

They are not immune from modern movements. In 1987, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” was sued by Charleston Baptist College because of its “speech and sexual content.” In 2001, when “The Catcher in the Rye” was opened by a member of the Dorchester District 2 school board in Summerville, he declared it “a dirty, dirty book.”

Jobs closer to home were also fired. The 1962 science fiction novel “A Wrinkle in Time” by Ashley Hall resident Madeleine L’Engle was banned. “A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich,” the 1973 novel by Charleston resident Alice Childress, was one of the books in the seminal Supreme Court case, Island Trees Board of Education v. Pico, which also served as an impetus to start Banned Books Week that year.

But this doesn’t apply to the South, Wentworth said. He became a victim of local censorship, whether for a single work or a book. His song “One River, One Boat,” about slavery, was cut from the program for the 2015 inauguration of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Books are banned today

Wentworth said banning the book was a “door” to what else was happening in the wider culture.

“If you had told me this would happen in our country like this, part of me would have been shocked,” Wentworth said.

The campaign to ban the books became political. And the battlefield has libraries and schools.

In 2018 in the Charleston area, “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, and “All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, the theme of the protests was joined by the Fraternal Order of Police chapter , Tri-Country Lodge # 3, which opposed its inclusion in a Wando High School student reading list. In the end, teachers keep the book, adding other options to the list.

“I have a strong opinion, and then one for the Charleston County Library … that the public has a right to choose what they read,” said Craig, who oversees a public library. as a collection of different ideas. .

Opening a book that doesn’t match one person’s beliefs takes time or choice from another person to benefit from it, he said.

“If you start pulling that book to hurt you then other teams are primed to start pulling books to hurt them and then all of a sudden it’s a domino effect, a terrible domino effect,” Craig said.

Wentworth noted that political and financial programs are often involved, with websites and posters built around patriotic language, and red, white and blue themes.

He asked the students how many of them had seen conflict between parents and school boards.

“Every kid is raising their hand,” he said.

And that’s leading the board to the First Amendment, and how it plays out in Island Trees Board of Education v. Pico, a 1982 Supreme Court case.

“The way these groups try to censor books or change the curriculum, or try to impose it as a patriotic duty, (while) suppressing knowledge and learning It’s anti-democratic,” Wentworth said.

Wentworth points out that marginalized groups have long been targets of book bans, particularly books by Brown or Black authors.

“I’ll hold up a book and ask if they’ve read it, whether it’s by a Brown or Black author. They didn’t know before,” Wentworth said. “It’s amazing when we learn about Langston Hughes. They don’t know who he is.

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Books by LGBTQ+ authors rank high among the top 10 books of 2021. At the top spot is “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” a graphic novel by Maia Kobabe. Others include “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, for its LGBTQ+ content that is considered sexual; “The Hat You Give,”; another Morrison story, “The Bluest Eye”; and Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award-winning “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.”

Craig said the Charleston County Library is carrying “Gender Queer” in the adult non-fiction section, where younger readers have little access.

“It’s a common misconception that we only sell things out there. We have strict collection development policies and standards,” he said with all of the library’s books, which are in Parents can choose the right options for their children.

The forbidden book week

This year, Wentworth is spearheading the university’s Banned Books Week activities. The annual event was established in 1982 by the American Library Association due to the sudden increase in the number of problems with books in schools, bookstores and libraries. The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship divides us.

From 6 to 7:30 pm Sept. 21, the university will host a panel on campus open to the public, aiming to correct the misinformation out there, and dispel the fear that often motivates the banning of the book.

Titled “Books Unite Us: Critical Conversations on Book Banning and Issues of Academic Freedom and Censorship in the Curriculum,” it was edited by Wentworth. Panelists include Craig; Anthony Greene, director of the African American Education Program and professor of African American Studies; Sandra Slater, director of the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program and professor of history; Christy Wegmann James, Charleston County School District media services and library editor; and Jennifer Wright, professor of psychology.

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“I mean, what does this mean?” Wentworth said. “What does this mean for our children? What kind of education do they have? What does it mean for our society, and history, what does it mean? “

The university will also host a Banned Book Read Out in Cistern Yard for students and faculty.

Wentworth said his students are opening up to the experience. “They want to understand,” he said.

For more information on Banned Books Week, visit To register for a free University of Charleston class discussion, visit

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