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Professor Offers to Teach Banned Books to Tenn. Students

January 28, 2022
 
 

Following a school board’s ban of Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic novel Maus, Davidson College professor Scott Denham is offering a free online course for eighth- through 12th-grade students in McMinn County, Tenn., where the board voted 10-to-0 to remove the book from use in middle school classes.

“The McMinn Co., TN, School Board banned Spiegelman’s Maus I and Maus II, so I am offering this free on-line course for any McMinn County high school students interested in reading these books with me. Registration details for those students coming soon,” Denham tweeted Wednesday as news of the book’s removal began to circulate online.

The ban, according to minutes from a Jan. 10 school board meeting, stems from eight curse words and a depiction of a nude woman in the graphic novel, which tells the story of the Holocaust by depicting Jewish people as mice and the Germans as cats. The highly acclaimed book is an academic standard and the first graphic novel to earn the Pulitzer Prize.

School board members also took issue with Spiegelman’s past cartoons for Playboy magazine and incorrectly stated that Maus was being taught at the elementary level.

“You can look at his history, and we’re letting him do graphics in books for students in elementary school. If I had a child in the eighth grade, this ain’t happening. If I had to move him out and homeschool him or put him somewhere else, this is not happening,” McMinn County school board member Tony Allman said, according to the meeting minutes.

Prior to the vote to remove the book, school officials said they considered censoring it but ultimately decided against that move due to concerns over violating copyright laws.

According to Denham’s website, the course is free but only available to McMinn County students.

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