Blog Post 5

For this particular blog post, I will be covering the readings of week 4 in my Burning Idea course. Grace Enriquez’s “The Reader Speaks Out” is an excellent read about Adolescent reflection about controversial young adult literature. When studying censorship, especially censorship around young adult literary works, one must consider the youth interpretation of these serious topics. Topics like sexual assault, suicide, family abuse, and depression are all able to trigger a traumatic event for the reader. It is for this reason, among others, that certain books become banned or taken off of the assigned reading lists.

“Since adult opinions can
prevent students from
reading worthwhile texts,
studying what students
themselves say about
reading controversial YA

literature in the class-
rooms presents an oppor-
tunity to better assess the

significance of teaching it.”

When there is a challenge against a book for young adult literature, the complaint is usually made by a parent or group of parents who feel that their children should not be subject to the topics discussed in the book. In this reading by Enriquez, we see the other side of the censorship debate, the students’ perspective. She aims to look at information that has been collected in four public middle school literature classes, as often these adolescents are the ones most affected by the texts they read. The student’s responses were collected over the course of two weeks, the sessions were of mixed races, upper middle or middle class students, and all aged between 11-13.

When examining these classes over this time frame, I am curious of a few things: 1. Why this particular school? Public schools have attendance from students who live in the surrounding area, this would limit the amount of class diversity available, for they would all be around the same class identity. 2. In considering the types of responses from the students, how would the questions guide the students? By this I mean her four questions that she would ask the students: “Four questions—“What makes a book controversial?”, “Why are books censored?”, “How do adolescents perceive inappropriate topics?”, and “What makes a book worth reading?”.

I believe these questions that are being asked to these two separate groups of students, the advanced section and the regular class, would be completely different responses if they were asked to a more diverse school district or even a more homogeneous district.  Yet, some of the responses from the students interested me. Grace noted one classroom discussion in which most students agreed that racism is a topic of contention.

“Elon: You can’t say anything that’s like racial remarks
’cause you’ll offend people.
Lara: Yeah, you definitely can’t be racist at school.
Drew: That’s an easy one.”

These kinds of topics are why books are banned, and these students were able to see why these topics would cause tension. The students’ voice was able to come out from this article, I could see them thinking critically about why books are banned. This kind of adolescent feedback could help school administrators and teachers plan the curriculum. Students are hungry for knowledge, they should be allowed to pursue it without censorship.

Blog Post 4

For this Blog Post 4, I will be surveying the available technology and additional resources on my campus. I started by finding out where to access the tools I need to succeed, good old Google came in handy to unlock the secrets of St. Mary’s Media Center.

The Media Center at St. Mary’s College of Maryland provides St. Mary’s students, faculty and staff access to the facilities, hardware, software, equipment, and expertise necessary to realize their vision for media intensive projects. The Media Center staff are available to

  • Teach students, faculty, and staff how to use media software and equipment to support their creative media projects.
  • Provide multimedia classroom support to St. Mary’s faculty.
  • Assist with media-related responsibilities at on-campus events.

The Media Center is located on the 3rd floor of the Library.

Noticing that the Media Center is on the 3rd floor of the Campus Library, I thought my best move would be to go check it out for myself. Last week I went into the Media Center to meet with Justin Foreman, I wasn’t sure what specifically I needed to know from him, so I asked Justin to show me around the inventory.×200.jpg

The Media Center was very spacious, the walls were lined with Mac computers for students to edit their video and audio recordings. Within this work space Justin showed me how to work the computers to edit small video clips. I found it interesting how you could replace the audio file on the clip and insert another voice, or input music over the film overall. Justin said that there are plenty of Media Center employees, students and “adults,” that would be able to help me out if I had any questions about how to edit.

After being shown around the main area, he went through the list of equipment that would be excellent for interviewing people involved in my case.  The things that stood out most to me was the: 1) Microphones (vocal, instrument, clip-on & shotgun) 2) Microphone stands (regular, boom, & tabletop). 3) Cameras (digital video & digital still) 4)Audio recorders (analog & digital) These video and audio devices will be the most important tools in conducting an interview with people of interest who are aware of the Song of Solomon case. 

Justin also reviewed the recording platform called Audacity. Audacity is a free, easy-to-use and multilingual audio editor and recorder. Basic features, as listed on their website, including… Record live audio, record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files. It would also allow me to cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together and change the speed or pitch of a recording.

With all of these new resources that are available to me, I know I will be able to create excellent audio and video recordings. I would like to thank St. Mary’s College Media Center, Justin Foreman, and Coplac digital learning for the opportunity.×200.jpg

Blog Post 3

I met with the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Research Librarian on January 31st. The meeting was extremely influential in helping me to get my research started. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was always looking for the right answer. After taking a minute to stop looking for the right answer, and just look at everything available, I know now more than before what this research phase means.

The research that I do now is the foundation for the success of this final project. The St. Mary’s Librarian started off with many of the sources that I had already known were available to me, but one thing that she said seemed to stick out the most. She referenced an old newspaper that was from the area. Could this paper have covered The Song of Solomon? That question began to burn in my mind, so off I went to research and find this paper, searching for the title of my book, but came up empty. Maybe change how or what I am searching for? Censorship, maybe that would do the trick? Still nothing, after continuing the search and expanding the terms I decided it would be best to move away from this source.

The Librarian also gave us another newspaper, called the Enterprise. I started off the search and was amazed at how much there was. There was a wave of primary source information that I needed to sift through. Source after source I was more and more involved and convinced that The Song of Solomon was going to be the most controversial book ever written in the United States. I saw how the people of St. Mary’s county reacted to this, but how did other people not in the county react? My next step will be to research how much of a stir this book caused in other places in the country.

Now that I have a good foundation of research from the Enterprise, I will need to contact the St. Mary’s library research librarian and see if they know anything that could help expand my view on the book. I also need to check the book out from the school’s library, every time I set a day to pick up the book I forget to search through the catalog and find the book number. Reading the book and trying to think like a parent or school teacher will be a valuable research.

Overall, I believe that I am on a successful path to completing my base research. Once I have completed a search for local primary sources I will expand my research to the greater context of the United States. I hope to accomplish this before the midpoint of the semester so that way I can move into the latter half well prepared to craft my argument about the book. It will take time, dedication, and hard work, but my partner and I can take on anything.

Blog Post 2

Since the beginning of the A Burning Idea course, I have been struggling to open my mind to see the larger picture and goal of the course. The learning curve for the online format has proved to be steeper than I was originally anticipating, but I am now starting to get a better handle on my assignments and a feel for the format of the course. The amount of progress that I have made on the final project seems to be almost nothing at this point. The research that my partner and I have been doing in the area only ever leads to more questions than finding the perfect answer. Researching for censored books in St. Mary’s County has also proved to be more difficult. The only book that I have discovered so far is called Song of Solomon from the 1970’s. This book was challenged based on the content, not due to its biblical references or usage. The content of the book was sexual, but with what little information I have at the moment there could be more than just its sexual content that caused the problem.

The Song of Solomon is an interesting discovery to have been banned in this area however. Not to far away from my college there is a portion of St. Mary’s County called Solomons island. I have also tried to research if the name of Solomons island comes up as having a biblical origin, but I cannot find that bit of information if it is. This novel by Toni Morrison was flagged to be inappropriate by the St. Mary’s County school superintendent, not by parents or teachers. I am hoping that the more effort and time I put into researching this book I will be able to use it as a suitable source to critique. Currently I am relying heavily on this source to be enough to cover without being too much of a challenge. This course has challenged me in my researching capabilities, using several different search engines, databases, and key words all to find this one book. Numerous hours researching to see if any newspapers covered the book being banned, or even if it was known to the public. These kinds of questions are constantly going through my mind, making me think harder about if I am making the right decisions or not in my research.

I feel that research on this topic has been challenging, and will continue to be challenging. I have stumbled along the way a few times already, but I am always ready to get back up and continue with my research. It is hard to know what the right words are to say when inputting them into a search engine. The best option I have seen is to use the generic “censorship” but even that at times broaden out the topics that are coming up through the search. In my research through the SMCM OneSearch, I cannot count the amount of times that I go through and add one word or put things into a quotations and I almost double the amount of sources found.