Today may mark the start of Banned Book Week, but OTC instructor Lyndsey Strahan and her class at OTC Richwood Valley have been studying the issue of banned books all semester.
This is the first semester the class has been offered at OTC and Strahan said the idea came from students.
“We were talking about specialized classes and they thought about a class on banned books. There have been discussions about how people control other people and their access to ideas,” she said. “So far, it’s been great. The students are taking a real interest in it.”
Strahan said the class not only looks at the banning of books but why literature is important to the culture.
“There is a great access of ideas in literature,” she said. “There is value to having access to all types of ideas and stories.”
In the class, students will read five assigned books and at the end of the semester, they will choose a banned book to evaluate why it was banned.
The class is studying “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” a book by Azar Nafisi and is a memoir about an Iranian woman who started a book club in Tehran, where the members would read Western classics. Nafisi’s book is banned in Iran.
Over the years, many American classics have been banned including “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Catcher in the Rye,” “Beloved,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Recently, “The Hunger Games,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Speak” have been added to the list.
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has been banned very often in the U.S. and there are many reasons for it and other classics being taken off the shelves, according to Strahan.
“Sometimes it depends on the age of the student reading the book. It can be about language, sexual situations or racial issues,” she said. “There’s a difference of opinion over at what age should it be discussed.”
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