UIW Observes Banned Book Week

October 14, 2022

Students at a table discussing banned books

“I believe everyone's viewpoints ought to be aired because when they're not, when people are silenced, I think we lose out on the ability to seek the truth in its fullness.”

Those are the words shared by LuElla D’Amico, associate professor of English, following the events she helped organize on UIW’s campus for Banned Book Week. While she noted that she understands both sides of the argument and the case for banning certain books in taxpayer funded schools, it is her hope that literature can instead be utilized as an instrument for finding truth and common ground.

The theme of this year’s Banned Book Week was "Books Unite Us: Censorship Divides Us." During the Banned Books display week, the Mabee Library, co-sponsor of the event, had an array of resources available, including displays and showcased banned books, highlighted by a special “Books on Fire” display (pictured right) created by UIW Honors students. The UIW community had the opportunity to learn additional information about banned books and could take a “mug shot” with a banned book. There was also a discussion, led by Dr. Ann David, associate professor of Education, about the politics of book challenges and bans.

Banned Book Week is important, D’Amico says, because some books that are taken for granted have been challenged in the past. She believes it is important to engage in serious and thoughtful discourse with others. Her focus is on ensuring the voices of the authors can still be heard.

“My field centers on the process of recovery – or reclaiming voices in United States literary history, especially girls and women's voices, that have been relegated to footnotes or altogether forgotten,” said D’Amico.

As a literary historian, D’Amico has read countless books throughout her life. Sometimes, she reads books several times through. When asked about her favorite “banned” book, she said “I don’t think I could pick one.” She went on to share that she enjoys Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. As a Catholic convert herself, D’Amico finds that she has much in common with the author and enjoys learning from her.

“I always feel that there's some beautiful truth in her writing, and that if I just read a little more, then I'm going to get to more out of it the next time,” said D’Amico. “So, I keep reading her books, over and over. Song of Solomon is one of my favorites right now. If you ask me again tomorrow, I might have a different book to say. My love for reading has no bounds.”

Banned Book Week, which was observed across the nation, allowed people to pause, come together and reflect on why people should be able to express ideas through the written word, even if those views are different from someone else’s.

“Ideally, we would work together to find common ground so that everyone's voices could find space even when they feel challenged,” said D’Amico. “That comes through relationship building, and in my mind, books ideally should be read and discussed in a community together. That is the beauty of libraries and schools in the first place. We read books from those places, then we discuss the ideas and parse out what truth we can find there, together.”