Students celebrate banned books

October 6, 2016

Isabela Palmieri

Staff Reporter | ipa001@latech.edu


The books “Where the Wild Things Are,” The Bible and “The Lord of the Rings” all have one thing in common. They are all  banned books.


Louisiana Tech students and faculty celebrated the annual Banned Books Week last week in George T. Madison Hall’s Shakespeare Garden with Banned Books Day, sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, the English honors society. The event was open to any interested parties who wished to read or hear passages from banned books.


“Books are banned because they are deemed dangerous, because their subject matter may make us uncomfortable,” said Nicole de Fee, Sigma Tau Delta’s co-faculty adviser. “They often force us to consider a worldview that challenges our own.”


De Fee said reading banned books is crucial to people’s understanding and compassion toward other people.


“They make us consider that there are other lives and experiences worth valuing,” she said. “And in confronting our discomfort, that is when we grow as humans.”


Scott Levin,  co-faculty adviser, said books were banned for a variety of different reasons, many of those books being children’s books.


“If you look at the language of some of these books, it’s lascivious and salacious,” he said. “So you can understand why certain areas around the country with conservative or puritanical beliefs would not allow this.”


Levin said any element in a book that challenged authoritative language could be a reason for it being banned.


“Others are polemical because they address on touchy subject matters, such as race and religion,” he said. “Anything that at some point has some type of anti-authoritarianism to it, authority is going to feel threatened. Literature is inherently a threat.”


Levin said the Banned Books Day brings students awareness and is a learning experience for them.


“It’s a symbolic protest,” he said. “It gives us a chance to speak our voice and to deny authority.”


Amber Jurgensen, a graduate student in English and vice president of Sigma Tau Delta, said her first memory as a freshman in the English department is going to the courtyard for Banned Books Day.


“I remember the dean of the College of Liberal Arts Dr. Donald Kaczvinsky’s reading of Ulysses, and it really stuck with me,” she said. “And I remember thinking that a celebration of reading books that have been banned was such an amazing thing, and it was what made me realize that the English department is where I needed to be.”


She said students that come to Banned Books Day look at reading differently.


“We are celebrating our right to read and our right to choose what we read,” Jurgensen said. “Because when you ban or otherwise challenge a book, you are stopping someone from seeing a point of view that otherwise they wouldn’t have thought of.”


Jurgensen said it is important to read banned books because although people might feel uncomfortable reading a certain subject, reading about it is how they learn.


“It’s not healthy to live in a bubble of your own opinions, because you are just in an echo chamber,” she said. “It’s important to see other points of view, to learn from people who have different views than you. If you read challenged material, you get a new perspective in your mind that you hadn’t thought of before.”


Jurgensen said it is important for students to realize that they are getting an option that other people do not.


“Not everyone gets the chance to read what they choose,” she said. “We are in a wonderful position to be able to pick up a book regardless of the curriculum.”


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