Thursday, February 22nd from 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Join us for a discussion with Emily J. M. Knox, author of Book Banning In 21st-Century America. Emily, an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will join us to talk about how understanding contemporary reading practices are key to understanding why people attempt to censor books in schools and public libraries.
This discussion will be moderated by Mary Bakija. We look forward to including questions from our audience as well.
A second edition of the book is expected in 2025. From the publisher’s website:
"Previous research on censorship tends to focus on legal frameworks centered on Supreme Court cases, historical case studies, and bibliographies of texts that are targeted for removal or relocation and is often concerned with how censorship occurs. The current project, on the other hand, is focused on the why of censorship and posits that many censorship behaviors and practices, such as challenging books, are intimately tied to how one understands the practice of reading and its effects on character development and behavior. It discusses reading as a social practice that has changed over time and encompasses different physical modalities and interpretive strategies. In order to understand why people challenge books, it presents a model of how the practice of reading is understood by challengers including 'what it means' to read a text, and especially how one constructs the idea of 'appropriate' reading materials.
"The book is based on three different kinds of sources. The first consists of documents including requests for reconsideration and letters, obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests to governing bodies, produced in the course of challenge cases. Recordings of book challenge public hearings constitute the second source of data. Finally, the third source of data is interviews with challengers themselves.
"The book offers a model of the reading practices of challengers. It demonstrates that challengers are particularly influenced by what might be called a literal 'common sense' orientation to text wherein there is little room for polysemic interpretation (multiple meanings for text). That is, the meaning of texts is always clear and there is only one avenue for interpretation. This common sense interpretive strategy is coupled with what Cathy Davidson calls 'undisciplined imagination' wherein the reader is unable to maintain distance between the events in a text and his or her own response. These reading practices broaden our understanding of why people attempt to censor books in public institutions."