By HEATHER JACKLING
The University of Mary Washington has decided set up a display of various novels that have been challenged within the last two years for various explicit themes in celebration of Banned Books Week.
The display is somewhat interactive and eye-catching, covered in caution tape, and sits right past the main doors of the Simpson library.
The authors in this banned book collective range from Aldous Huxley and his famous novel “Brave New World,” to Dr. Seuss, and his children’s book “If I Ran The Zoo.”
The topics of controversy throughout these books range from sexually explicit to racist content.
Some of the persecuted authors who made the cut for potential ban are quite famous, and their works are considered popular within the American education system.
For example, Anne Frank’s famous work “The Diary of a Young Girl” was challenged for containing homosexual themes. Hergé who wrote “The Adventures of Tintin” and Steinbeck who penned “Of Mice and Men” were also scrutinized.
However, all three of these authors are frequently read in American high school English classes.
Many of these pieces are what they seem, and you will find splashes of profanity, sexually explicit and racist content throughout, but that does not mean they should be withheld from the public.
Challenging a work to such a severe extreme as banning it is also challenging the freedom of being able to read what you want.
Although many people may find this display controversial, which is reasonable since it deals with the various problematic subjects, I personally find the display and participation in banned books week to be very important, as the week itself stands as a means of maintaining our freedom to read what one wants.
Furthermore, the challenging of novels based on their different controversial themes is important, but it does not necessarily warrant a ban within the literary community.
Overall, reading fiction should bring about an understanding of human and situational nature. Challenging novels to the point where they are no longer available to the public because there is a personal dislike of a certain subject is not a beneficial resolution.
This keeps readers from developing their own opinions and conclusions. It is incredibly important to understand why these novels have been challenged, in order to form opinions about the potential conflict they are supposedly provoking.
However, choosing to read, or acknowledging the controversy is entirely up to the reader, which is why banning them would be somewhat pointless.
The week itself is used to raise awareness about the subject of censorship, and how it can play a negative role in the literary world.
The library’s decision to put up the display is significantly beneficial, and it gives students not only the knowledge that these books exist, and have themes that can be considered problematic, but also makes them readily available.
Participating in Banned Books week, whether it is through personally reading a work, writing about one or attending a reading of a challenged work is beneficial to our community as a whole, because it maintains our values of individual choice, and keeps our ability to form our own opinions on unpopular views.