OU Writing Center celebrates banned and challenged books

By Kaylee Kean

The Oakland University Writing Center is throwing its very first Banned Books Week Jan. 27 through Jan. 31 at the Kresge Library.

Each day of the week a new book will be focused on and discussed, according to Ashley Cerku, consultant mentor for the center. 

A consultant for the center will do a synopsis of the book, read a few of the controversial passages, explain why it was banned and then lead a discussion about the book and its banning.

“What we found interesting was the topic of censorship in all these classic and well-known books that have been taught in class and even classes here,” said Cerku.

Caryn Rochfort, a writing consultant for the OUWC, said this is her first Banned Books Week.

Rochfort said she has read many on the banned books list so far, but there is “never enough time” to read them all.

One of the most interesting banned books Rochfort has read was “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov. The book is about a sexual predator getting involved with a pre-pubescent girl.

“I actually like this because you get to reconnect and learn about the different books that are out there and why they’re banned,” said Rochfort.

There are many factors that play a role in the controversies surrounding these books, including religious, governmental and family value factors, according to Cerku.

The center is currently decorated with over 30 books and information regarding the banning of each book.

The top five most frequently banned books are “The Great Gatsby”, “The Catcher in the Rye”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Color Purple”, according to the Writing Center’s website. 

Cerku said she has always loved reading and has read many of these banned books. The most interesting one she has read is “Huckleberry Finn”.

“It was the whole concept of race and all of that,” said Cerku. “Some of the versions… actually took out the character Jim entirely.”

The center is also holding an erasure contest until Friday at 5 p.m., according to Cerku. Participants can submit up to three erasures created from a controversial passage.

“Basically you’re taking a passage from a book… and either eliminating or rearranging or adding punctuation to the words on that passage and creating a new text,” said Cerku.

Cerku said she and coworkers will choose submissions to be featured on the OUWC’s website.

“We thought of incorporating that concept into Banned Books Week because it puts another spotlight on censorship as well,” said Cerku.

For the reading schedule go to oakland.edu/ouwc or visit the Writing Center at Kresge Library.

Readings Schedule:

Monday // Stranger in a Strange Land, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday // Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 11:45 a.m.

Wednesday // To Kill a Mockingbird, 12:30 p.m.

Thursday // Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 11:45 a.m.

Friday // Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 3:30 p.m.