English Language Library :: Guanajuato

News and Events

An English Language Library/Presa 97 Roundtable Discussion on Book Banning | 6pm 13 May 2024

The world is facing more book bans than any time since the Red Scares of the Cold War 1950s. The American Library Association documented 1,269 demands of book censorship in 2022. In 2023, the number was even higher, with 4,240 different book titles challenged nationwide. Of course, this being a time for challenges of all statements, there are those questioning whether requests for removal are the same as bans.

All of this will be discussed in an English Language Library/Presa 97 roundtable discussion being presented by GTO Atheneum at 6 pm on Monday, May 13 at Presa 97. All will be able to share their anecdotes and thoughts regarding book censorship, with several invited guests helping spur the dialogue.

Some facts to dwell on: Queen Elizabeth I demanded changes to William Shakespeare’s Richard II and had one of its producers executed. The Puritans of Massachusetts banned Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan in 1637. Nearly 200 years after Shakespeare’s death, Thomas Bowdler published a family-friendly version of his works that eliminated words that he deemed offensive. Ever since, to bowdlerize means to remove material deemed offensive or improper from a text. James Joyce’s Ulysses was banned, and burned, around the globe for being obscene. In the 1930s, Germany banned and burned over 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, while in the U.S. copies of Darwin were removed from schools and universities. The 1950s McCarthyite “Red Scare” led to bans on over 300 Hollywood actors, writers and directors, the creation of a Comics Code to censor what some thought was a scourge on American youth, and both Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita went on trial. The State of Mississippi banned Sesame Street in 1970, Banned Books Week started in libraries worldwide in 1982, and in 2003 Baghdad’s treasured national library was completely destroyed by invading U.S. forces.

We’ll have much to talk about, including the central question: where do we get off trying to control the thoughts of others?

No need to rsvp. All are welcome. After introductions of all participants, discussion will be moderated by ELL volunteers. Humor is decidedly welcome. But so is serious thought and analysis.

We look forward to seeing you for this special event. ELL memberships and t-shirts will be for sale.