UC Santa Cruz experts available to comment on 'Banned Books Week'

This year's national Banned Books Week, September 22-28, takes on a heightened importance as Americans debate how to balance national security issues and First Amendment rights. The theme for the 2002 Banned Books Week is "Let Freedom Read: Read a Banned Book."

The following University of California, Santa Cruz, faculty members are available to discuss book banning, censorship, and other topics related to Banned Books Week. If you have trouble reaching any of them, contact Ann Gibb, (831) 459-2496 or anngibb@cats.ucsc.edu.

Forrest Robinson, professor of American studies, has written and taught on Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn, one of the most read and frequently banned American novels since its publication in 1884. "Beginning in the 20th century, Huckleberry Finn has been periodically banned on the grounds of racial insensitivity," said Robinson. "But in the last 15 years, groups of parents have gotten together to talk with teachers and work out criteria so that Huckleberry Finn can be taught in a way that is racially sensitive. This book is part of a vital and enduring feature of American culture, so the idea of banishment is absurd, but it needs to be presented to young people with sensitivity and historical context." Robinson can be reached at (831) 427-0414 or robinson@cats.ucsc.edu.

Jody Greene, assistant professor of literature and women's studies, has written and taught on the history of copyright law and the relationship between ownership of content and liability, the history of literacy, and the history of the book. "I think Americans are more intellectually resilient than both the right and the left give us credit for," said Greene. "When we're confronted by things we disagree with, we begin to figure out what we believe. Taking away choice, or having a few people control choice, is no guarantee of ultimately producing ethical behavior." Greene can be reached at (831) 459-5457 or jgreene@cats.ucsc.edu.

Carla Freccero, professor of literature and women's studies, has written on the attempt to censor the novel American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis. Ellis's original publisher withdrew its contract offer after prepublication reviews denounced the novel. "We see more and more self-censorship in America," said Freccero, "especially during times of war. This is not external controls by the government, but internal fears of offending, or business fears that a book or film might not make money. But what good will it do to only say one thing about an event?" Freccero can be reached at (831) 459-4129 or freccero@cats.ucsc.edu.