This course aims to take a critical look at children’s and young adult literature that is frequently challenged and banned in public schools and libraries. While we will discuss issues of censorship throughout the semester, our primary concern will be with understanding these books first and foremost as works of literature. As such, we will consider the choices that authors make in composing these works, focusing on the functions of the literary elements contained within. Throughout our discussions, we will be able to determine how these “bannable” ideas or elements are or are not necessary for the books to function as cohesive narratives with specific themes. In the end, we should be able to determine if or when restrictions should be placed on novels intended for young people and who gets to make that decision.
It was a struggle coming up with a clear idea of how I wanted to approach the course. It is kind an intro survey, and I turned it to a special topic, but I also (always) want to give my students room to form their own opinions and ideas. I won't be doing a lot of outside reading--although I will refer to blogs and articles from time to time--instead focusing on approaching the books as literature that people find objectionable for whatever reasons. So our focus will mainly be on the literary elements (plot, pov, setting, character, form, theme) and how the "objectionable" stuff fits into those categories, specifically relating to how they emphasize/enhance the overall theme of the novel.
This is my first time teaching the course this way, so we'll see how it goes.