English professor gives banned-book talk to more than 70

Lauren Roberts

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Todd Giles, assistant professor of English, answers questions after his lecture Thursday over banned books on the second floor of Moffett library. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Todd Giles, assistant professor of English, answers questions after his lecture Thursday over banned books on the second floor of Moffett library. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Near the rare book collection in the Moffett library more than 70 people attended a lecture Thursday Sept. 25 presented by Todd Giles, assistant professor of English, titled “Books are better for banning and burning than page turning.”

Giles said he only expected 20 to 30 people to attend. Additional chairs were added and a speaker system was brought in to accommodate the people at the back of the room.

While several students said they attended for extra credit in their English and mass communication classes, many others said they attended because of their interest in book banning.

English senior Bee Quesada said, “I’m here to support banned books week.”

According to the website for the American Library Association, “Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community … in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

Giles’ talk covered Howl by Allen Ginsberg. Customs officials confiscated the book when it was imported from London in 1957. Howl contained references deemed obscene and it went to trial were the charges were overturned. The presiding California State Judge, Clayton Horn, said the poem had redeeming social importance.

Jennifer Holt, psychology freshman, said, “The idea of banning them seems ridiculous and against the rights given to us by the Constitution.”

During the Q&A section of the lecture, Giles pointed out that books are still banned today and the most recent example was last week at the Highland Park ISD where seven books were banned when parents were uncomfortable with the content in the books.

Todd Giles, assistant professor of English, gives a lecture Thursday over banned books on the second floor of Moffett library. Photo by Lauren Roberts

Todd Giles, assistant professor of English, gives a lecture Thursday over banned books on the second floor of Moffett library. Photo by Lauren Roberts

A student brought up that books that were banned were from people with a minority status. Authors who were gay, abused, the poor, or a different race than white.

Giles said, “It’s very intentional. We don’t want our kids to see life outside our bubble. Banning a book in general is problematic.”

The lecture explained to those in attendance the process of how books are banned and why someone like parents or the government would want to ban certain material.

Holt said, “I have a better sense of why people think it’s a good idea to ban books even if it’s misguided.”

Giles said it is imperative that we fight to do away with censorship and it is our moral duty to uphold our freedom of expression.

 

 

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