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ENGL 214: BANNED BOOKS (HOSTETLER, FALL 2015): Independent Book Project Assignment


BANNED BOOKS – Independent book project – See Moodle Calendar for Research and Due Dates

 This project has two sections: informational and critical.


The informational section will be condensed into a handout for the class, which should be posted to Moodle the day before the presentations (Ann will make copies).

  1. Information about author, date of publication, and overall response to its publication. Did it get good reviews?  Was it controversial from the start?
  2. Brief author bio and list of other major works, with publisher and date.
  3. Full bibliographical citation of the book.
  4. Brief summary (in your own words) of the book’s plot, including controversial elements.
  5. Where and how has it been challenged and/or restricted?  Include a full list and your sources—or if it is a very long list, just put highlights on the handout and include the full list as an appendix to the paper.
  6. What reasons have been given for the restrictions?
  7. Read at least three critical articles on this book for more insight into the books and the controversies surrounding them. Reference these in your presentation and cite them in your Works Cited list.  (Start by searching the MLA bibliography on EBSCO. Also check ERIC.)
  8. Works cited list on handout, MLA style.


The critical section will be written up as an essay and handed in, with an appendix listing all of the times it has been challenged and/or restricted and where (to the extent available in research sources).

  1. What was your personal response to the book, as a reader?
  2. What has been considered controversial about this book? (Use secondary sources to set up your argument.)
  3. What is the reasoning behind the restrictions? For instance, if a book is challenged because it portrays homosexuality as normative (as in Penguin Makes Three), is this because parents wish to protect their children from an idea that is distasteful or ideologically incorrect?  If it is restricted because of foul language, is the language considered in the context of the literary work as a whole, or is it singled out as a reason to restrict, such as in a film rating for PG?
  4. Which objections, if any, do you think are reasonable? In which contexts?
  5. What merits does this book have that might outweigh any of these objections?
  6. How do you view the cultural conversation around this book?  What did you learn from this research that you will take into your future thinking about reading and restrictions?
  7. Works cited list, MLA style.

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