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Bleep! Free Speech and Censorship in the Classroom: Introduction

A guide to accompany our poster presentation at ALA Annual in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2011

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Emily Croft
she / her / hers
Library #224C

Course Description

 Imagine a world where everything you see, hear, and touch has passed through a filter.  Music, literature, art, motion pictures, and news media have all been stripped of ideas, images, or words that are objectionable or offensive to the status quo.  This is your world. 


Despite the protection allotted by the 1st Amendment for the individual freedoms of religion, speech, and the press, ongoing censorship issues in art, politics, religion, science, and popular culture consistently challenge individual freedoms.  Who should decide what books we read, what movies we watch, and what music we listen to?  Should politically rebellious literature be censored?  Does the government have the right to conceal environmental data from the public?  What are the motivations behind those who censor?  


In this course, we will follow the trail of censorship throughout U.S. history by analyzing banned and censored materials.  Arguments for and against censorship will be identified and discussed as we read banned texts (both literature and comic books), view racy pre-production code films, and explore the controversial issues surrounding art and pornography, wartime photography, as well as music and video game censorship.  Throughout the course we will ruminate on whether or not censorship is ever defensible.