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

Fall 2004

E 314L • Banned Books and Novel Ideas

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
32025 MWF
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
CAL 200

Course Description

Why might certain texts or performances be labeled as “obscene” by individuals, educational establishments, or governmental organizations? Under what social, political, and economic conditions do texts get banned in America, and what is it about these texts that lead to their exclusion from school curricula, television, or the airwaves?

In this section of Banned Books and Novel Ideas, we will read a representative sample of books that were, at one point or another, considered objectionable and banned from the classroom due to their sexual content. We will also be examining non-literary texts that have been censored, particularly those banned from radio or television by the Federal Communications Commission. Because this course functions as an introduction to the English major, we will spend a good deal of time “close reading” each of our texts, as well as investigating the cultural and political climate in which each text was produced, received by the general public, and ultimately censored.

Grading Policy

Two 5-7-page formal essays 25% each
Six 1-page response papers 20%
Homework and quizzes 20%
Participation 10%


Alice Walker, The Color Purple
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
Allen Ginsburg, Howl
Judy Blume, Forever
Course packet that will include readings about FCC actions against performers like Janet Jackson, Howard Stern, and Sarah Jones, as well as excerpts from children’s books like Heather has Two Mommies
Selected film clips from The Last Temptation of Christ and The Celluloid Closet


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