Getting Started

Hello WordPress! This is my first time writing a blog, so I am excited to get started and share my progress in the COPLAC course, A Burning Idea. In my junior year, I found myself hungry for a new type of learning. The majority of my college career to date has been spent in crowded lecture halls memorizing amino acids and late nights pipetting cancer curing drugs into flasks. This time though, I am excited to get out of the lab and into the library.

Archival research is uncharted terrain for me, so I wanted to be proactive. During winter break I found myself sitting by my fireplace, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand of course, casually browsing the web for an instance where a book was challenged. I came across some titles I knew, and many that I had never heard of. But the biggest problem was that very few texts were protested in New York.

When spring semester began, my partner, Jacob, and I did some individual hunting for an interesting case. We both came to the table with some good ideas. Jacob proposed a situation in Lackawanna, New York where six books were removed from the middle school library recommended list in 2008. This incidence of censorship met some important criteria, namely that it was close and current. I researched two books banned in Johnson City, New York titled Nasreen’s Secret School and The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter. Like the other case, these was also challenged suggested readings. These were particularly appealing to me since I have been studying Arabic for three semesters. My professor has told my class about his life in Iraq, which is the setting of one book.

Jacob and I had adequate options, but we really wanted a case deep enough that we could dive in head first. Just when we were about to end our search, we came across an article that reported a banning of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman in Halton Catholic School District in 2007. Since Geneseo is a reasonable distance from Canada, we figured it would be worth entertaining this text as a project option. One google search later and … tons of articles. It was like hitting the information jackpot! We did some perusing to see what all the hype was about. As with many other challenged texts, the source of the dispute was religion. This text was reported due to concerns that it promotes atheism. Interestingly enough, the school that condoned the censorship is both catholic and public. 

Now this was an fascinating case! I got sucked into reading one article and then another. One potential problem, is that Halton is two and a half hours away from Geneseo. This is pretty far, but we are both willing to make the trip if given the go ahead. In the event this does not work out, the Lackawanna case is a good backup. Looks like a trip to Canada may be in store!