Banned Books Course for Themester 2019

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For students who like to read and learn about social issues comes a brand new course in Spring 2019  with a focus on banned books and censorship.

The course taught by Kara Kendall-Morewick, professor of English at Washburn University, is brand new and being offered as a part of Themester 2019 organized by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The theme for Spring 2019 is freedom of speech and expression. All education departments on campus are encouraged to participate in themester, whether through a specially-designed course, an event or speaker, or even just a section within a course that focuses on the theme of freedom of speech.

According to the Themester 2019 website, “Washburn’s themester program is a new initiative to foster a campus-wide conversation on a variety of topics that will change each spring semester. The goal of the program is to engage students and the entire Washburn community in a collective learning experience on timely subjects.”

The banned books course will focus on many different banned books and films including classics like: “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, “1984” by George Orwell, and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. As well as some interesting modern novels such as “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel which is a graphic novel that focuses on Bechdel’s upbringing and her life as a queer-identifying person.

The course will also include discussion relating back to the books about censorship and freedom of speech in today’s society. In recent years due to politics and social issues, freedom of speech has become a hot topic for people in the 18-35 year-old age bracket.

“I’m interested in the whole range of reasons books and films have been censored, banned or suppressed in some way, and how censorship has been viewed in recent years with things such as trigger warnings,” Kendall-Morewick said. “I’m interested to hear the student’s perspective on where we draw the line on freedom of speech.”

The course is cross listed under EN 192 and HN 201 which both count as a humanities general education course, and also under EN 399.The class is scheduled for Tuesdays from 5:30 to 8 p.m.  Currently this course is only being offered for one semester to fit with the theme of Themester 2019. Students only have one chance to take this limited time class. If you have any questions regarding the banned books and films course email Kara Kendall-Morewick at [email protected].

Other departments and professors are offering courses surrounding the idea of freedom of speech and expression. Also in the English department Bradley Siebert is teaching a class called Mainstream and Marginalized Rhetorics, which is listed under EN 399 or EN 699. This course will give special attention to rhetorics, or identities, that are marginalized such as religious, feminist, and queer rhetorics. This class is scheduled for Mondays 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In the history department Tom Prasch is teaching a course called Natural Rights and Revolution: Britain in the Seventeenth Century and is listed under HI 300. This course will focus on 17th century Britain and how free speech developed in this era. The course is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Philosophy professor Justin Moss is teaching a course titled Free Speech and it’s Limits which is listed under PH 300ST. This course discusses the moral and political aspects of free speech and how one can deal with the rewards and consequences of a dedication to free speech for everyone. The course is scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Finally, the art department is designing a course taught by Professor Ben Willis called Advanced Sculpture, Expression with Textiles. This course is listed under AR 364. The course will teach students how textiles have been used to communicate in the past through flags, quilts, wearables and fabric images. The class is scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

The diversity and inclusion committee is also working on scheduling several events and speakers that fit with the theme of freedom of speech and expression next semester. The committee hopes to partner with student organizations that would like to promote the theme through their club.

If you have any questions regarding Themester 2019 and what it has to offer, reference the website at under Themester 2019. You can also contact Professor Kara Kendall-Morewick or Professor Kelly Erby at [email protected].