In the past several years, hundreds of challenges a year to books used in public schools have been reported across the nation. Most of these have come from the Religious Right. This book confronts the attacks on public education and commonly used literature books by challenging the religious assumptions, the biblical interpretations, and the intimidation tactics of the Religious Right. Part I counters the claims of these censors by presenting opposing views on democracy, secular humanism, religion, the Bible, morality, and the purposes of literature. In Part II, six books frequently taught in high school classes are analyzed. Edwards shows why they have been challenged by the Religious Right, and presents a case for their moral and religious virtues as well as their literary worth. The book differs from other anti-censorship works because it deals primarily and directly with the religious and moral aspects that educators often tend to avoid. This book offers teachers and school administrators scholarly conterarguments that can help confront with literature challenges from the Religious Right.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface. Introduction. Part I: The Censorship Debate Regarding Public Schools. The Debate Over Government and Religion. The Debate Over Humanism and Democracy. The Debate Over the Purpose of Teaching Literature. The Debate Over Biblical Interpretation. The Debate Over Morality in Literature. Part II: Religion and Morality in Selected Challenged Literature. Religion and Morality in Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Religion and Morality in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Religion and Morality in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Religion and Morality in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Religion and Morality in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Religion and Morality in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Part III: Suggestions for Preventing and Responding to Challenges. Suggestions for Preventing and Responding to Challenges. Appendices: Sources for Preventing and Responding to Challenges. Sample "Request for Reconsideration." Organizations Against Censorship.
"...well balanced, thoughtful, and informative."
"Edwards cuts through the smoke-screen rhetoric of Religious Right censors and clarifies the overriding purposes, attitudes, and arguments that drive their challenges against public schools and books; she quotes meaningfully from Religious Right spokespersons to present their case, including their use of biblical references. She builds the case against these positions and arguments forthrightly and fully; her point-counterpoint structure is expressive and effective as is her use of biblical references to support her arguments....The organization of the whole volume and interior structure allows readers easy access into the material, even if they do not have much prior experience."
—Nicholas J. Karolides
University of Wisconsin, River Falls
"Helps teachers and administrators defend works of literature against charges by censors that the works are harmful to students....Addresses major issues first and then applies that thinking to particular texts....I can imagine teachers consulting the chapters on individual books....And I think a principal might find them useful when asked to defend a teacher's choice."
University of North Dakota
"No one else has approached the problem of censorship this way in a book....Edwards certainly is high up among the commentators on censorship and may be the leading person on censorship and biblical issues and biblical morality....A marvelous book."
Arizona State University
"This book can become the definitive look at the problem....The scholarship is especially impressive, particularly in the fact that the author allows the censors to speak in their own words....The topic is a vital one for students in teacher education, library education, educational administration, book publishing and selling....lawyers and law makers, the clergy, and really, any educated person. The fact that this book is so clearly written and inviting in style will make it usable with readers at many levels of sophistication."
—Robert C. Small, Jr.
"An important book....Useful for teachers, school board members, attorneys, schools of education, and journalists."
—Daniel C. Maquire