Student Trying to get ‘Persepolis’, ‘The Sandman’, and Others Banned from College Campus

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41VSM65TXSLFor thousands of years the written word has been a way for humans to communicate, educate, learn, and express themselves. And for just as long there have been those finding offense in those words. Though book burnings are a rare thing in the US these days, there is always somebody out there challenging a book’s validity, relevance, popularity, content, and very nature of being. There is even a website dedicated to the ever changing list of banned or challenged books. To me this is not okay. Art should never be banned, however challenging someone finds it. Yet it keeps happening all around the world.

This week it’s a 20 year old college student at Yucaipa’s Crafton Hills College. Tara Schultz, her parents, and several of her friends have been protesting outside the halls of education because of four required graphic novels in English 250 that she feels are pornographic and violent. Of the ten books required for the course the books Schultz found offensive and ban-worthy include critically acclaimed titles such as Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of her childhood during the Iranian revolution Persepolis, the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s sci-fi last man-on-Earth series Y: The Last Man, Alison Bechdel’s memoir Family Tragicomedy Fun Home, and the second volume of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy series Sandman: The Doll’s House.

“It was shocking,” Shultz said. “I didn’t expect to open the book and see that graphic material within. I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.”

“At least get a warning on the books,” Shultz said. “At most I would like the books eradicated from the system. I don’t want them taught anymore. I don’t want anyone else to have to read this garbage.”

“I had no warning,” she said. “I had nothing. The professor should have stood up the first day of class and warned us.”

College English is meant to challenge students, giving them stories with varied, complex, mature subjects, and I can’t think of four better books they could be studying. Fun Home and Persepolis are especially important books with common themes that many of these students can relate to. Are they mature, challenging reads? Of course they are. These books tell very human stories of people just trying to survive on a day to day, of lives being lived in the face of adversity. Being human is challenging, and these books reflect that very fact, and burying your head in a hole in the ground won’t change that.

The syllabus describes the course as “the study of the graphic novel as a viable medium of literature through readings, in-class discussion and analytical assignments.” In the three times associate professor of English Ryan Bartlett has taught the course this is the first time a student has been offended by the material.

“I chose several highly acclaimed, award-winning graphic novels in my English 250 course not because they are purportedly racy but because each speaks to the struggles of the human condition,” Bartlett said in an email Thursday. “As Faulkner states, ‘The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.’ The same may be said about reading literature. The characters in the chosen graphic novels are all struggling with issues of morality, self discovery, heart break, etc. The course in question has also been supported by the faculty, administration and approved by the board.”

Schultz will still be taking the course to avoid a zero, and her parents are meeting with college officials to come to a resolution to their daughters issues.

I for one have issues with people trying to ban art, and that counts literature as well. I will be keeping my eye on this story as it develops, but I have a feeling professor Bartlett will win out in the end, and his many other students will enjoy the class and the reading material he’s chosen.

Source [RedlandsDailyFacts]

 

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2 Comments

  1. Matthew Fox June 15, 2015 Reply
    • Avatar photo Carl R. Jansson June 19, 2015 Reply

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