The Power of Words: Banning Books in the United States

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition

From April 8 – May 6, 2022, the Sorensen Family Reading Room on the first floor

April 8 – May 6, 2022
Sorensen Family Reading Room 

On two shelves at the entrance to the Sorensen Family Reading Room on the first floor of the Rock, books held at the Brown University Library that have been banned at least once in the U.S. will be on display for on-site perusal. This sampling shows a range of titles that demonstrate the variation in publication dates, topics, and genres of books that have been met with calls for censorship.

Book banning has a long history in the United States, beginning before the founding of the nation and carried out for many reasons. In 1637, Thomas Morton’s critique of Puritan society garnered him the honor of being banned in the colonies. From The Bible to more recent young adult fiction like The Hate U Give, thousands of books have been challenged or banned in the U.S.  

Since 1982, the American Library Association has compiled an annual banned book list, which consistently includes classics, contemporary fiction, children’s books, young adult fiction, and graphic novels. Recent years have seen books challenged for “sexual content, presence of LGBTQ+ characters, and content unsuitable for age group.”

Virtual Talk on Book Banning with Dr. Emily Knox

On Thursday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Emily Knox will give a talked, “Intellectual Freedom and Social Justice: Understanding the Discourse of Censorship,” for the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center’s Masha Dexter Lecture on Gender, Sexuality, and Public Policy. Dr. Knox, author of Book Banning in 21st Century America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), will discuss the underpinnings of contemporary book bans and will provide recommendations for how to address book censorship in schools and public libraries.

Immediately following the lecture will be a Q&A moderated by Dr. Kenvi Phillips, Director of Library Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Brown University Library.

RSVP at: https://tinyurl.com/DexterLecture22

More information

Banned Books on Display at the Rock