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Celebrate freedom to read at UT’s Banned Books Week Vigil

When Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, he concentrated on the carefree lives of two young boys growing up — yet these classics have been banned by schools across the country.

Shortly after Huckleberry Finn was published, the Concord Free Public Library banned it, saying the novel was “inelegant” and “trash of the veriest sort,” according to The New York Herald from March 18, 1885.

“Huckleberry Finn particularly offended people who did not understand Twain’s sharp sense of humor, ear for local dialogue, or clever satire of society,” said Dr. Paulette D. Kilmer, UT professor of communication and coordinator of the University’s Banned Books Week event.

Although more than a century has passed since newspaper and magazine editors sparred about the literary value of Huckleberry Finn, many titles continue to be banned or removed from circulation.

To bring awareness to this censorship and to celebrate the right to read, the American Library Association created Banned Books Week 30 years ago. For the last 15 years, UT has been a part of that event — and it’s that time of year again.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, UT’s 15th Annual Banned Books Week Vigil will kick off the event. The free, public program will take place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with new presentations every half hour on the third floor of Sullivan Hall with door prizes given away after each talk.

Alan Kitty

UT also will host “Mark Twain Night” Friday, Oct. 19, featuring Twain impersonator Alan Kitty. The actor will present his original monologue, “Mark Twain’s Last Stand,” which contrasts his life as an author, speaker and social critic with his life as a husband and father, at 7 p.m. in Libbey Hall. (Click here to download a photo of Kitty)

Tickets — $7.50 for students, $15 for one, $25 for two, and $100 for a table of eight — are available at or by calling 419.530.2375.

Topics and speakers for the vigil will be:

  • 9 a.m. — “Celebrating Reading: Selections From The Princess Bride” by Joshua Manley, Pearl Grambell and Jasmine Townsend, members of the UT Writer’s Guild;
  • 9:30 a.m. — “In the Name of Democracy: Resurgence of Censorship in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe” by Arjun Sabharwal, assistant professor and digital initiatives librarian;
  • 10 a.m. — “From ‘Lucy’ to ‘2 Broke Girls’: TV and Its Cultural Impact” by Dr. David Tucker, associate professor of communication;
  • 10:30 a.m. — “Google Bombs, SEO and Censorship” by Dr. Paul Many, professor of communication;
  • 11 a.m. — “The War on Women … as Old as History” by Warren Woodbury, Toledo author;
  • 11:30 a.m. — “Prison Education: What Is the Point?” by Dr. Renee Heberle, associate professor of political science;
  • noon — “My Favorite Book” by Dr. William McMillen, assistant to the president;
  • 1 p.m. — “Inequality and Democracy” by Dr. Carter Wilson, professor of political science;
  • 1:30 p.m. — “Book Burning in Nazi Germany” by Dr. Larry Wilcox, professor of history, and Justin Pfeifer, student;
  • 2 p.m. — “Grey Matter” by Dr. Ben Pryor, vice provost for academic program development;
  • 2:30 p.m. — “Jeopardy!” by Vincent Scebbi, editor of The Independent Collegian;
  • 3 p.m. — “Avoiding the Echo Chamber: The Benefit of Dissenting Opinion” by Sarah Ottney, managing editor of Toledo Free Press;
  • 3:30 p.m. — “Thomas Jefferson’s Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” by Dr. Tom Barden, dean of the Honors College;
  • 4 p.m. — “Babes in Pornland: The New Pornography Industry” by Dr. Sharon Barnes, associate professor of women’s and gender studies; and
  • 4:30 p.m. — “Debased Ditties and Songs That Suffered Censorship” by Dr. Ed Lingan, assistant professor of theatre.

For more information contact Meghan Cunningham at 419.530.2410 or

Media Coverage
The Independent Collegian (Oct. 17, 2012)

is UT's Director of University Communications. Contact her at 419.530.2410 or
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