Critical Insights: Censored & Banned Literature

“Editor Evans has compiled a variety of essays on censored and banned literature. The book is divided into two large sections (“Critical Contexts” and “Critical Readings”), with a shorter chapter featuring Evans’s introduction and a “self-interview” by Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who explains why he produced an edition of Huckleberry Finn with revised language and details reader response. “Critical Contexts” offers an overview of how banning and censoring have changed over time. “Critical Readings” covers specific cases of censorship, self-censorship and unofficial censorship, and primary source material on how the NAACP addressed the release of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation in 1915. The pieces vary widely: Evans, also the writer of three essays, has a literary style that will nevertheless be accessible to most readers, while other authors adopt a more academic tone. This latter point is not to the book’s detriment, as Evans has provided a rich resource for a variety of scholars, students, and professionals. Most readers will home in on a specific essay or section, but they will likely find something useful in this wide-ranging text.” – Library Journal

"Part of the “Critical Insights” series, this volume will be a useful resource for those studying censorship or rhetorical device. Evans (Auburn Univ., Montgomery) begins with an interview with Alan Gribben about the sanitized Huckleberry Finn brouhaha. This interview introduces themes and triggers that are addressed in various of the contributions that follow, which consider titles ranging from Mankind (a 15th-century morality play) to Alison Bechtel’s Fun Home, a 21st-century gay graphic memoir. Essays about the usual suspects—e.g., D.H. Lawrence, Harper Lee—provide springboards for discussions of popular texts; the varied models of expository and persuasive writing represented offer wonderful opportunities for a themed composition class. The “Critical Readings” section addresses some important contemporary arguments. The many bibliographic references should encourage further research. An instructor looking for a book to unify a course on censorship or writing would not be disappointed with this choice. Summing Up: Two Stars, Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers." – CHOICE