Spring 2018 Course

A COPLAC Digital Distance Learning Course

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Blog Post 13

Progress on Silenced, censorship of Song of Solomon in St. Mary’s county, is in the final stages. Working through the motions of what my partner and I have already accomplished gives me a lot of pride in the website. We have come a long way from the begging of the semester not even knowing what WordPress is or how to use it; to not having created an entire website with different pages, interviews, and newspapers. The amount of time, energy, and willpower that we had at the begging of the semester will help get us through the end of the semester.

Progress on the website is going at a slow pace. Trying to balance my additional classes, studying for exams, and editing papers all within a two week period is extremely stressful. Last week I received suggestions of how to edit my website to be more user friendly, the peer to peer suggestions were a great start on how to edit the website for people who have not been in the class. The website acts as a source for primary sources, the newspapers from the different publishers like the Enterprise, Washington Post, and the school paper all help to give a primary source insight into the case at the time it was going on. My partner and I were fortunate enough to get a lot of newspapers and interviews for the project. I would say that we were one of the most fortunate groups in the class, we have so many newspaper articles that covered the case, we had a back and fourth dialogue between those who were for the book and then those who were against the book, the interviews with: David Flood, Robin Bates, and Amy Ford all help to put our case and general censorship into perspective, giving both a modern interpretation of the events that occurred and a reflection on the event when it was happening.

The Removal of Song of Solomon in St. Mary’s County

The thing about the website that I am most proud of is the interview with David Flood. It was sheer luck to find the teacher at the center of the controversy, without meeting with Professor Robin Bates (or even finding the article written by Robin Bates) there would have been no way possible for us to find David. Meeting him was such an experience, he was so knowledgeable about the case, having lived through it, and just the way he spoke about the case made me feel like I was going through it all with him. Currently putting the last edits of the transcript up, making sure that the software for his interview and the others turned out alright. So with that, I have one blog post left. For anyone out there reading along and following what I am saying I want to thank you for joining me through this semester. Make sure you checkout the website posted above!


So Close, and yet, So Far (Actually just Really Really Close)

The fact that the website is due this Friday is one of those things that I’ve known for the whole semester, but, despite Cathy’s and Dr. Dierking’s continual reminders of its approach, it really snuck up on me. In general, finals make me feel something like this:


From the Wake Forrest Website post “Finals Humpday”


But, looking at all the work Cara and I’ve done on the website, and all the revisions we’ve started doing and are finishing this week, I have to say that I am rather proud of what we have accomplished.  Though there are still many revisions to be done, I think that Cara and I will be more than able to finish them by this Friday. Today we met with our professors to hash out the last few questions that we had on the suggestions they gave us, and we’ve divided those suggestions between the two of us to work on throughout the week.  On Wednesday we’re going to meet up and work on outlining and scripting the presentation for Monday, so overall I feel very well prepared for the end of this class.

That doesn’t meant I’m not scared out of my wits over this presentation.

But, I do definitely feel that Cara and I will be well prepared for it when it comes.  Actually, part of me is fairly excited to showcase all the work we’ve done this semester, the real challenge is going to be fitting it into under ten minutes.

One of the things we hope to focus on in our presentation is the overall process by which we went about creating our website. Though we haven’t completely hashed it out yet, I’m hoping to incorporate a synopsis of the research process that also gives a description of the case as well as a very brief discussion of how we decided upon the website layout. This will probably have to get summed up into a quick minute snapshot, but I would like to mention it, at least briefly, because it was something that I really though about and that Cara and I have worked on throughout the website design process in order to make a website that was easily accessible and that could be approachable from many different points of views and ways of thinking.

All and all I think that we will have plenty to talk about for the presentations in terms of site content and how we got the information we have, it’s just a matter of going through and finding the most important parts to highlight.

Week 13: Reading Reflection


We are at the end of this project/course and I am really excited about all the work we have done. The sites look amazing and this class has made me think critically about how censorship works currently and throughout history.

I returned to the text, The Reader Speaks Out: Adolescent Reflections about Controversial Young Adult Literature by Grace Enriquez and thought about how the ideas in this essay intertwined with the case that Karina and I investigated. In the article, Enriquez talks about how there is a lack of young adult voices in the arguments about these texts that are highly debated. She explains how there is a ton of educator and parental arguments, but no one really asks what the students or young adults think about the text. She went to students and asked them about what their definitions of controversy were. What makes a book controversial and what makes a book worth reading? She found that they think a book is worth reading if the plot seems interesting despite the use of profanity, violence, sexual content, and/or discriminatory remarks. She found that students “appreciated the importance of context.” It made a big difference if they had to read the book.

In our case, we were lucky to get in touch with a student who did speak up against the removal of the novels To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from Accomack County, VA schools. I think her perspective about the books and whether or not they should be removed really added so much context about what happened in late 2016. She created a petition and joined the protest that was created by Charles Knitter. Because of her voice and the voices of other students through the petition they were able to give their thoughts to the committee that the school board created to decide if the books should be officially removed or not. Even though this started out as an argument made by a parent, the students were the ones that the committee listened to. I think that is a huge step for students voices to be heard when censorship of reading materials pops up in different places.

Students voices need to be included in the discussion about removal of texts from classrooms and libraries. A lot of students like to talk about the controversy in the novel and by doing so in a safe academic environment I think that students can learn a lot about the reasons why something, such as derogatory language, in a controversial scene is used. I think communication and discussion can always help students push past just what are the themes in this text, but also how it can relate to students lives and the community of the school or library.

Enriquez, Grace. “The Reader Speaks Out:
Adolescent Reflections about Controversial Young Adult Literature.” The ALAN Review. Winter, 2006. pp 16-23. Print.

Progress Report #5

For my last progress report, I want to focus on the feedback we’ve gotten from both COPLAC students and professors. I like to think about feedback as advice on how to strengthen our website instead of just as something that points out our flaws. The feedback we got from Cara and Karina was really helpful, both in person and on hypothesis. I definitely think adding the transcripts of the news articles is smart because they will help people read them and make them searchable. It’s good to have this feedback because I can read the articles so I wasn’t thinking other people wouldn’t be able to, but now I know how to make our site better. Similarly, we’ve been working on this site for so long and there are typos we need to fix because I’ve been reading it and rereading it for so long that I just read it how I wanted to read it, so I’m grateful for help in that area.

There are some things I’m not sure how to fix, such as the italics in the Timeline JS or the color of the hyperlinks, but Sean and I are going to tackle that this week. Another fix that is less straightforward to me is the permission from the D&C because I’m a bit confused. I had asked about that a few weeks ago and I thought that Leah said because I got the articles from newspapers.com permission from the newspaper wasn’t needed, so I’m not sure where to go from here. Also, I’m not sure what pictures to insert to break up the text. I don’t want to randomly insert images that aren’t related, so I’m hoping Sean has some ideas for that.

I’m excited to tackle all the feedback otherwise because it feels a bit like spring cleaning. Organizing and cleaning up the website is almost therapeutic. It didn’t occur to me until reading the feedback that some links and stuff would be faulty because they worked for me. Now I realize I will have to look at the website while logged out so that I can see what a third party observer sees and understand what they experience. I really appreciate the feedback we got because sometimes when you create something it’s hard to look at it and see its flaws. One of the things I really appreciate is that with the constructive criticism there were also compliments. It’s nice to know that some things work well and makes it easier to see how other aspects need to be enhanced. I really felt good about these comments from Cara and Karina and am happy we all got to engage in this peer feedback.

Another benefit of the feedback is that going over it demonstrates what might be our main parts of the website. This will help Sean and I figure out what pages we want to showcase when we do our presentation

Progress Report: 004

Cartoon by Rollin Kirby for the New York ‘World,’ 1929. The Massachusetts book laws and the New England Watch and Ward Society had made ‘Banned in Boston’ a famous phrase throughout the world.

I do apologize for the tardiness for the lateness of this post, for the last week and a half, I have been polishing my latest draft of my creative writing project, which I am proud to say it consists of forty pages. My project covered poetry written in a Native storyteller style, while the rest of it is prewriting of scenes for a dystopic fiction, with a Native protagonist, but enough of my creative writing project.  Over the course of last week, Max and I have been unable to work on the site since our draft has been submitted. However, we did do a few minor edits, we did edit the navigation to make it more intuitive, we are getting rid of the pages that occupied the menus line and are opting for just the drop-down menu. I am also going to try to edit the front page picture for it will be easier to read for  I uploaded the correct biography page for J.D. Salinger, I had previously uploaded my first rough draft of the page. Also, I completely forgot to get something uploaded to my biography section, so I will get that uploaded when I have free time this week or sometime next week. We have now received both feedback from our peers and professors; now Max and I will go through a list comprised from both and complete as much as possible in the next following week before we present at the end of the semester.

Just to clarify from my last post, we did not interview Dr. Anderson, due to the lack of time and we did not want to suddenly drop this on Professor Anderson. Also, the new aspect of the site was typing the content of the clipping of the newspaper and upload them along with pictures of the clipping onto the site.  We are going to try to edit the images and either increase them in size or create PDF versions.


Works Cited:

CENSORSHIP CARTOON, 1929. – Cartoon by Rollin Kirby for the New York ‘World,’ 1929. The Massachusetts book laws and the New England Watch and Ward Society had made ‘Banned in Boston’ a famous phrase throughout the world.. Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.

Peer Review and Native Author Interaction Reflections

I have had quite the exciting April this year. I got to meet two Native American authors who I greatly admire. I’ve also been busy with finishing up final papers and projects for my second to last semester before graduating!

But before I give details on those encounters, I’ll dive into my experience with peer reviewing SUNY Genesco’s website:

I think Liz and Sean did an excellent job with creating and putting together the website. I love the rainbow background. I was a little nervous that it might be a bit difficult for me to read, but the text was dark enough to where I could make everything out without any issues. I read as much of the actual content as I could. I thought it was super interesting. I had never heard of Rainbow Boys before I took this class, so it was a new learning experience for me.

My only concerns that I recall having is that I found some typos in one of the timelines. And it was a little difficult for me to see that some text was hyperlinked since the hyperlinks were so close to the color of the regular text.

My favorite part of the website was the video where Alex Sanchez talks about his experience as a homosexual man and writer. I thought it fit so well with the content of the interview transcription above the video. It was a perfect touch in my mind.

I think that one good addition to the site might be some excerpts from the book that Liz and Sean may think have been challenged. It also would have been nice to see more photos to compliment the interview transcriptions and some of the text. Though I wonder if they were minimalist with extra media because of the rainbow background.

On that note, one page that I saw on Sean and Liz’s website that I think would be a good addition to my and Rosanna’s website is a page that lists what we know about the parent who challenged the book. Even though we didn’t get to interview the parent, I think it would be useful to have one page dedicated to listing all that we unearthed about him so that viewers can have that context.

It was really cool to go through the website. It not only made me think about this particular case of censorship, but the evolution of LGBTQ literature throughout history. I think that we have come a long way. Though we still have more ways to go in that literary arena.

Now I’ll jump to my interactions with Annette Clapsaddle and Joy Harjo.

A little background on Annette:

She is an author and journalist who is both local and native to western North Carolina. Annette is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who grew up in Cherokee, North Carolina. She currently resides in Qualla, North Carolina with her husband and children. She earned her bachelor’s in American Studies and Secondary English from Yale University and her master’s degree in American Studies from the College of William and Mary. Her first novel, Going to Water, whose main character is loosely based on her grandfather, the late former Principal Chief Osley Saunooke, is the winner of the Morning Star Award for Creative Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium, a finalist for the PEN/Bellweather Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and the 2017-2018 selection for Western Carolina University’s One Book program. When she was the assistant to the former Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Annette produced Cherokee Elders: Our Greatest Generation and a series of children’s books including: The Elder TreeTrue Blue, and What Wonders. Her recent publications also include “Undertow” in Carolina Mountain Literary Festival Anthology: Ten Years of FestivalsNaked Came the Leaf Peeper, “It All Comes Out in the Wash” from Appalachian Heritage Quarterly, and “Camouflage” from Night is Gone, Day is Still Coming. After she served as the executive director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Annette returned to teaching English at Swain County High School. She has been National Board Certified since 2012. She is coeditor of the Journal of Cherokee Studies and has written bimonthly columns for Smoky Mountain Living magazine.

I got to introduce Annette at Western Carolina University’s annual spring Literary Festival this year. I didn’t get to speak with her much. I wanted to give her some space while she prepped for her talk and had to run out after her presentation was over to make my long trek back home, but I did get a lot out of her presentation and the little bit that I got to converse with her.

One thing that Annette stressed during her presentation was how being a Native American writer is inherently political. Native writers have the power to shape how the world perceives us. However, we also have the burden of dealing with an industry that tends to not understand our people and that sometimes requests that we portray our people in a stereotypical light. For example, Annette described how she has sometimes been asked to write fiction set during the Trail of Tears and how she doesn’t give in to that. While the Trail of Tears is a big historical event for our people, she does not think it should fully define who we are.

Again, it makes me think about the day that my class discussed the lack of Native voices in literature and some obstacles that Native writers might face. What we want to share may not always be what publishers are interested in. And I think that this really stems from stereotypes that certain individuals buy into. In my own experience, sometimes it feels like people don’t want anymore than what they’ve been told. And, in my mind, that kind of defeats the purpose of diversifying the literary canon with more Native voices. We don’t all share a single story. Our tribes and experiences are varied and rich.

After the festival, I was invited to attend a Q&A session with Joy Harjo. Here is some quick background information about her from the Poetry Foundation:

Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She earned her BA from the University of New Mexico and MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.Harjo draws on First Nation storytelling and histories, as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values into her writing. Her poetry inhabits landscapes—the Southwest, Southeast, but also Alaska and Hawaii—and centers around the need for remembrance and transcendence. […]Her work is often autobiographical, informed by the natural world, and above all preoccupied with survival and the limitations of language. A critically-acclaimed poet, Harjo’s many honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award. She has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Witter Bynner Foundation. In 2017 she was awarded the Ruth Lilly Prize in Poetry. In addition to writing poetry, Harjo is a noted teacher, saxophonist, and vocalist. She performed for many years with her band, Poetic Justice, and currently tours with Arrow Dynamics. She has released four albums of original music, including Red Dreams, A Trail Beyond Tears (2010), and won a Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year in 2009. She has been performing her one-woman show, Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, since 2009 and is currently at work on a musical play, We Were There When Jazz Was Invented.

One major takeaway that I got from the session with Joy was her own self-censorship. At one point, she said, “I don’t want to write anything to cause harm. Words can really hurt somebody.” Towards the end of the session, I had a chance to ask her a question. “Do you think that there are some things that are too sacred to write about?” I didn’t get to write everything from her reply, but she essentially said that she thought so. What I gathered is that there are some things in our lives that are too intimate and sanctified to share with the world in our literature.

UNC Asheville’s Native American Student Association with Joy Harjo. (I’m the fifth person from the left side.)

That’s me with Annette Clapsaddle at Western Carolina University’s Spring 2018 Literary Festival.


Blog Entry 18 April 2018

It has all come together.

Our website is up. We have received some suggestions and expect to be done with all our edits by the end of this weekend. In a weird way I do not want this project to be over, but I am excited to graduate and move onto bigger things.

The process drew deficits in curriculum to my attention. I realized how much more could be done with a proper chain of classes. A background in archival studies, some background in code, a class on writing digital history, and then a project like this would have been ideal. As it stands we are limited to a blog style historical page. I understand that this is where things start. From here we can expand and develop the craft. The workforce of a college student boy provides unique utility to the field of history. Projects like the Codex of Mendoza can be tackled by graduate and undergraduate students. The digital aspect of history should be a tool as much as it is a way to present information. Computer programs can be used to pull data and make sense of complex figures to later be interpreted historically.

I do feel like we have created something valuable for a future researcher. When we began our project little to nothing on the censorship in this area was readily available on the internet. Sources were out there but not searchable. Our efforts brought together a vast amount of information into one place for the first time on this subject. For our efforts we may have earned a spot in our school’s archives. Our video and oral transcriptions include rich history about St. Mary’s County.

I hope that our school continues to encourage students to sign up for these COPLAC courses and that we opened the door to a new tradition. I appreciate being able to take the course and feel like my college experience was unique because of it.

I have some lingering anxiety about the full launch of our website. I hope we do not offend anyone too deeply and the openness to criticism is somewhat daunting. Our website will probably go unnoticed until it is relevant for someone though. I believe our information was conveyed in a respectful way and all of our interviews were left true to the message of the person being interviewed.

I am interested to see how censorship rises as an issue once again. The alt-right movement has been gaining steam in profound ways. The efforts to being prayer back into the church despite constitutional protections while simultaneously citing the constitution as a reason to keep semi-automatic weapons is perplexing. It is easy to write off people with conservative views as ignorant, but they do not believe that and writing them off does not make the belief go away. The dismissive nature of academic liberals emboldens the causes of radical conservatives rather than diminishing them.

Progress Report

This week we are critiquing each others sites and working on correcting ours. I was assigned to critique To Save a Mockingbird . Unfortunately, this post is going to be briefer than my last due to the pressure of finals here at USAO and the crunch of attempting to correct the website before I return … Continue reading Progress Report

Blog Post 12

The website is beginning to come together nicely. This week we are reviewing all of the websites completed by the class and giving feedback on what works and what could use some improvement. The course began very reading intensive on varying ideas on censorship, and as I reviewed a peer’s website i noticed a trend among general book censorship. In many of the cases, especially in the case of To Save A Mocking Bird, those who came out against the book did so for the use of the N-word and graphic scenes that would be too inappropriate for children. In Accomack County, this was the case. A parent made an initial complaint about the reading of To Kill A Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The parent, much like others who attempt to censor books, used the depictions of race and language by the characters as the reason for the ban. In this case it is tricky to declare that the book is not offensive to the reader, the complainant was the mother of a mixed African American child. She felt that the school reading materials should be reviewed and offer a more inclusive setting for the students, as her son hears it often enough outside of school, he should not hear it in the classroom. “She claimed that by letting students read these materials they were normalizing the use of the n-word in schools and her child shouldn’t have to hear it in their place of education, that her son already hears it enough on the street.”

After the initial complaint filed by his mother at the school board meeting, there was a petition started to bring the book from the county schools. Students at the high school wanted to bring the book back to the shelf. Then after the petition circulated, more and more parents, students, and residents to the county began to take notice. On December 2nd, 2016, there was a protest organized by Charles Knitter  in protest of the banning of To Kill A Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He advertised the event on Facebook while word spread throughout the community.  There were about 50 protesters there all to speak their mind and try to bring the book back to the shelves, all the while stating that the books are condemning racism and not actually condoning or encouraging racism. There efforts would prove to be successful. On December 6th, 2016, the Accomack County School Board voted to permanently reinstate both To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn back to school library shelves.

As I explored their website further, I noticed that they put in a map of other places in the United States and Canada. This case of To Kill A Mockingbird seems to be one of many, all in which targeting the use of the N-word to denounce the book as racist. I found it interesting that it has been challenged so many times, all along the same reasoning, in several parts of the country. It can really make you think about book censorship and the rights to free speech.

Review Week


This week, I had the opportunity to peer-edit Drexel and Price’s website on The Song of Solomon and then hear feedback from Cara and Karina on our own website. The task of looking at the St. Mary’s website was hopefully useful for its creators but it also definitely helped me to have the chance (incentive) to thoroughly look at another site and pick up some ideas for improving Behind the Rainbow. As a general trend, I noted some typos on the St. Mary’s site that I corrected on Hypothesis, and the favor was returned by those who looked at our site. Essentially, everyone in the class presumably understands the basic rules of grammar but with the flood of hastily added content on our sites, it may not appear that way. Additionally, with the St. Mary’s site, there were some pages of content that I felt lacked appropriate background information to piece the site together for a visitor who does not know how each participant’s story links together. Looking back at our site, the same can be said as pointed out by Cara and Karina; we would benefit from a little more general information on our home page to establish the basics of what happened outside of the timeline. Similarly, there was a question on the St. Mary’s site of which aspects of the “Opinions” drop down menu reveal content and which do not. On our own site, we overlooked that the “Home” tab and the “Timeline of Events” tab are literally the same page and that could be confusing to a viewer. Finally, on the St. Mary’s site, I felt there was a good balance of text and images and rarely a page where one seemed to be dominating the other. Reflecting on our site, we could benefit from some more images to break up long chunks of texts.

Looking at the extensive feedback from Cathy and Rebecca provided lots of improvements to make to the site but reaffirmed that overall we have strong information to carry the project. Something I had thought about but was not sure how to incorporate was my own perspective on the material. Our voice was recognizable at various points in the site, but I think we would benefit from a separate perspectives section like the St. Mary’s site had. That way, we can synthesize all of the reactions, connections, and conclusions that arose throughout the research process. Next, giving the text of the newspaper articles luckily will not be too difficult because they’ve already been typed on either Alex Sanchez’s website or newspapers.com. Though I think some organization of that material could be in order in terms of putting it in a separate and more visible tab. It’s nice to see the framework for “About Rainbow Boys” and “Historical Context” is on the right track, and we’ll just add some more examples and analysis for those pages to give a more complete perspective. Looking at the Trish Warren page, I’ve battled some criticism on it since it was first made, but I still feel putting the entire single-spaced 4-5 page transcript on the page would be too long and I think the summary is fair and encourages interested parties to read on via the attached transcript. Lastly, I appreciated Cara’s point that our hyperlinks should be better contrasted because we relay a lot of information through them and we certainly want visitors to notice they are there.


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