Culture, the Arts and Society: Banned Books and Youth Activism

CLLC-L 210 / Class 36396 — FALL 2024

Edmondson Hall C112
Days and Times
Tu/Th 9:45 – 11:00 am
Course Description

This course examines how today’s book bans target stories of kids that, banners claim, will harm the kids who read them. We’ll read contemporary banned books, ranging from All Boys Aren’t Blue to Captain Underpants, along with current political rhetoric and popular journalism. We’ll probe why “innocence” is such a big deal, write about our uncomfortable experiences of adolescence, and conclude the course by helping local libraries create a “Banned Books Club.” Along the way, we’ll explore why youth is at the center of all this controversy. How do stories and book banners alike construct childhood and adolescence? What intersectionalities of identity—of race, class, and gender and sexuality—are at play? And how do we confront our own uneasy beliefs that certain books by certain authors—including transphobic J. K. Rowling and racist Dr. Seuss—should not be read? Ultimately, we’ll ask ourselves: in this contemporary crisis, what responsibility do we have to activism and justice? 

Instructor: Sara Loy