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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2008

E 314L • Banned Books and Novel Ideas

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34360 MWF
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
PAR 303

Course Description

This course introduces undergraduates to the English major through discussion of literary texts that threaten social taboos relating to sexuality. We will read works that have been banned for some type of sexual content. To put our primary reading in perspective, we also will read and analyze secondary texts. These will include literary criticism and newspaper articles revealing the cultural response to these texts' "offensiveness." In addition, we will read court documents that demonstrate how the law attempts to balance freedom of expression with the unwritten social contract governing perceptions of taste and decorum. The course will invite us to ask a range of questions about the extent of literature's power to change culture, where we get our ideas about what is "moral," and the implications of not permitting targeted populations-such as children, adults, or both-to read specific texts.

"Banned Books and Novel Ideas" is intended to prepare students for college-level discourse about literature. Ultimately, the course should help students to learn a variety of skills: to retain detail and understand how literary form relates to content; to judge the power of written language relative to the power of other forms of media; to appreciate the basic differences among different "schools" of literary criticism; and to reflect in an informed manner about the purpose of reading in our culture.

Grading Policy

3 formal essays, 1000-2000 words each 70%
Annotated bibliography 10%
Informal writing projects 10%
Class presentations 10%
Regular attendance is expected, and excessive absences will affect the final course grade.


Lillian Hellmann, The Children's Hour
James Joyce, Ulysses (brief excerpt)
J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Philip Roth, Portnoy's Complaint
Allen Ginsberg,"Howl"
William Faulkner, Sanctuary

A course packet will include secondary material commenting on the primary texts.


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