OUWC celebrates “Banned Book Week” by addressing controversial themes in some of the most beloved books in history

Jessica Leydet , Social Media Editor

The Oakland University Writing Center (OUWC) hosted “Celebration of Challenged and Banned Books” on Sept. 24–29. The event was in honor of Banned Book Week, which was established by the American Library Association (ALA).

Banned Book Week is a way for librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers alike to join forces and celebrate books throughout history that have been challenged or targeted with removal or restriction in schools.

Sherry Wynn Perdue, director of the Writing Center and professor of writing and rhetoric, proposed the idea of celebrating Banned Book Week in Kresge library to her staff. They decided to hold an open discussion on the topic Sept. 26 from 4:15–5 p.m. in the Writing Center and displayed  some of the most challenged books as well as some of the most disputed quotes from each of them throughout the week.

“In the discussion we devoted 45 minutes to the topic of why it is so important for ideas to be circulated even if that means that some ideas may offend some people,” Perdue said. 

She believes that students gain insight from learning different perspectives of the world through books. She thinks it is very pertinent for students to read these controversial topics to  help them develop their own opinions especially at such an influential time in their lives.

“We wanted to touch on some of the greatest risks of censorship and provide a space for people to share their experiences with that, and with reading these books,” Perdue said.

Perdue stated that it is so easy for some to become immune to the fact that people still challenge books we know and love. Some titles included in the Writing Center’s displays during the week were, “The Great Gatsby,” “American Psycho,” “Lolita,” “A Farewell to Arms” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Annmarie Eovaldi, a new writing consultant at the OUWC found this to be a compelling controversy and volunteered to host the discussion. She shared her ideas and thoughts with other students and writing consultants who also had something to say on the matter.

I am studying to be a secondary education English teacher, so this topic is very interesting to me,” she said. “Many books have been banned in different parts of the country, whether it be in public libraries, schools or other forms of academia.”

Eovaldi explained that banning certain books according to supposed controversial themes actually implies censorship and strict academic curriculum in schools.

“The reasons for banning the books vary according to the legislation that deems it banned; however, they are usually attributed to a book’s discussion or portrayal of strong racial, sexual or obscene scenes and language,” she said. 

She doesn’t believe students should be censored from some of these books because they have the potential to teach them something they couldn’t otherwise learn in the curriculum.

“In my opinion, the implications of withholding these books and lessons they teach actually compromise the education of students and the public,” Eovaldi said.