UT events observe Banned Book WeekWritten by Alissa Romstadt | | email@example.com
Bob Dylan, feminism and indecency in broadcasting are a few of the topics that will be covered Sept. 26 to Oct. 3 during the national American Library Association (ALA) Banned Book Week observation at UT.
UT professors, students and Toledo residents will host a vigil Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the second floor of Sullivan Hall honoring books that have been challenged or censored.
A challenged book is one where attempted removal was unsuccessful and censored books were removed from a course or library shelves, said Brian Hickam, associate professor and librarian for the College of Health Science and Human Service.
Associate Professor Paulette Kilmer has been involved in the ALA Banned Book Week Vigil in Toledo for the past 12 years, she said. She is responsible for bringing the program to UT.
Kilmer saw a flier in Thackery’s Books 12 years ago announcing a 24-hour vigil commemorating the ALA Banned Book Week hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She took a few students and stayed awake all night reading from books that had been banned, she said.
The next year, she took a few more students. After three or four years, Thackery’s management approached her and said the program was dissolving as some of the ACLU members retired. They suggested she take over the program.
She accepted and moved the program to UT’s campus.
“It took off,” she said. “The first couple years were hard. It gets a little bigger each year.”
Last year’s festivities drew 503 attendees. The vigil includes 16 sessions, beginning each half hour throughout the day. Sessions are capped at 20 minutes to make it clear to the students that the intellectual dialogue is a celebration rather than another lecture.
“Kiss of death,” Kilmer said, “Even for coffee and goodies and prizes, they’re not going to another class.”
Sometimes, students resent when they have to do schoolwork, but forget what a privilege it is to live in a country that protects our rights to speak freely, she said.
Speakers from all departments across the campus will present. The vigil has been well attended by students and well received, said Elaine Reeves, committee member and lecturer, information literacy and library instruction, at UT.
“It’s an all-campus presentation,” she said. “There are a lot of things to be excited about.”
Sessions are designed to get students and people from the community involved, Kilmer said. “They’re short, interactive and informal.”
Presentations are also timely. Professor Paul Many will discuss the controversy this past July when Amazon removed electronic editions of George Orwell’s book “1984” from Kindle.
Reeves will discuss Judith Krug, librarian and founder of Banned Books Week, who passed away earlier this year.
“It’s important to review [Krug’s] contributions and challenge everyone who is involved to carry on her work,” Reeves said.
“Professors and people from the community take time to write really good papers on topics that will engage the students,” Hickam said. “Sometimes it’s spoken. Sometimes there are images or movie clips.”
The thought of not being allowed to read something scares Kilmer, she said.
Shortly after arriving in Toledo, she heard on NPR that college students were graduating without knowing what the First Amendment covered. She later read the same thing in the New York Times.
“We were graduating students, all over this nation, who had no idea at all how that First Amendment protected them,” she said. “That’s the most crucial thing they can learn in four years.
“I started thinking ‘How could I do something, at least where I am, to get that first amendment out there?’”
Kilmer said she hopes the publicity the vigil generate will generate that conversation across campus and raise awareness of the first amendment and the importance of intellectual freedom, she said.
The Banned Book Week Vigil at UT is free and open to the community. No RSVP is needed. Beverages and snacks will be provided.
Topics and speakers for the vigil will be:
- 9 a.m.: “Speech, Reading and the Banning of Thoughts” by Jim Benjamin, UT professor and chair of communication, after greetings from Marcia Suter, UT associate professor and director of library services;
- 9:30 a.m.: “Radical Islamists and Fear of Radical Islamists — Both Are Significant Threats to Free Speech” by Douglas Oliver, UT associate professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering;
- 10 a.m.: “When Censorship Goes Soft: The Case of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the Publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Larry D. Connin, UT administrative coordinator for the Honors Program;
- 10:30 a.m.: “We Are Strangers” by Warren Woodbury, Toledo author;
- 11 a.m.: “1984: From Orwell to Amazon” by Paul Many, UT professor of communication;
- 11:30 a.m.: “The Book Corner TV Show,” a performance by K and the IC Players — Kilmer and Independent Collegian Editor in Chief Joe Griffith, Sports Editor Zach Davis, Assistant Sports Editor Michael Bauman, and Staff Writer Jason Mack;
- Noon: keynote address, “Book Burning in Nazi Germany,” by Larry Wilcox, UT professor emeritus of history;
- 1 p.m.: “Censorship, Dissent and Etiquette” by Ben Pryor, UT associate professor and chair of philosophy;
- 1:30 p.m.: “Remembering Judith Krug: Librarian and Founder of Banned Books Week” by Reeves;
- 2 p.m.: “Indecency in Broadcasting: Why Bother?” by David Tucker, UT associate professor of communication;
- 2:30 p.m.: “The Politics of Bad Ideas” by Carter Wilson, UT professor of political science;
- 3 p.m.: “Jeopardy!” with Hickam and Reeves;
- 3:30 p.m.: “Censoring Bob Dylan in the Sixties” by Tom Barden, UT professor of English and director of the Honors Program;
- 4 p.m.: “Feminism Does Not Equal Censorship: Toward a Feminist Politics of Representation” by Renee Heberle, UT associate professor of political science;
- 4:30 p.m.: “Homosexuality in Children’s Books” by Sharon Barnes, UT associate professor of interdisciplinary studies; and
- 5 p.m.: Poetry reading by Glen Sheldon, UT associate professor of interdisciplinary studies, who will read “The Story of Giles Corey,” an original poem he penned for the vigil.
Benefactors of the free, public event are the Society of Professional Journalists, the University Honors Program, The Independent Collegian, University Libraries, UT Department of Communication, UT English Department, and the UT Theatre and Film Department.
Sponsors who contributed door prizes and food include Barry Bagels, Curb’s Candle Co., Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Glacity Theatre Collective, People Called Women, Rite Aid Pharmacy at Westgate, Toledo Free Press, UT Bookstore, UT Business Technology, UT Career Services, UT-MUO Federal Credit Union, UT Starbucks, and UT Theatre and Film Department.
For more information on this free, public event, contact Paulette Kilmer at (419) 530-4672.