Overall, I’m satisfied with the Eickholdt interview, and I feel that it met our expectations in terms of producing a clearer picture of Mallory’s opposition in Gwinnett County. We learned that Dr. Eickholdt was not only a Professor of Education, but a former childhood literacy coach and “reading specialist” working with books like Harry Potter at the elementary level. While she was not working at JC Magill at the time of the case, her occupation remains significant because it suggests that she would have been highly conscious of challenges to children’s literature in her community, and also very familiar with literary censorship in general. Her work as an educator, and more specifically a literacy coach for “aspiring readers,” seemed to give her a different perspective on both the case and the material being challenged, as she repeatedly described censorship as a threat to marginalized groups. The interview also revealed that Dr. Eickholdt was asked by members of her school’s staff to attend the hearing as a professional representative of the Gwinnett County school district: a key detail when considering her role in the hearing, given that she did not approach the hearing entirely on her own accord.
Dr. Eickholdt’s details of the hearing itself were mostly in line with available articles, but she did provide some subtle details which could prove useful. She briefly established that Mallory was not alone in the courtroom, and that she had “people there to support her,” suggesting that Mallory’s support network was perhaps not as strictly digital as we had previously assumed. Dr. Eickholdt also recalled an interesting anecdote about one concerned mother’s account of her child’s “possession” which will likely make for a striking quote or soundbite. Furthermore, Dr. Eickholdt confirmed that the community response to the challenge was somewhat limited. She suggested that the school board may have been attempting to “under-play” the hearing, and made it clear that the hearing “was not big.”
Having reviewed the interview in full, I am able to conclude that we should attempt to improve the audio quality of all interviews if possible, or simply include full transcripts below any embedded footage. We had hoped that Zoom’s default recording software would be sufficient, and while it does capture clear audio, it seems to stutter occasionally. The remaining footage is understandable, but lacks consistent quality. In retrospect, some of our questions may have also appeared extraneous, and several failed to provide any relevant information related to our case, as with our concluding question in this interview regarding the subject’s advice on how to respond to book challenges in one’s community. While it is worth considering how a question like this may lead to a more relevant line of questioning in practice, for our next interview with Gwinnett County educator Dana Kling, we should attempt to limit our use of questions which are only tangentially related to the cases at hand.