Friday, March 15, 2013
Bleeding Cool News is reporting that Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis may be experiencing a controversy. According to a post from the principal of Lane Tech College Prep High School, the book has caught the attention of someone who doesn't want the book available to students.
Read more about this possible censorship case here. You can access the principal's email address and send a letter of support for the book's continued inclusion in this and other Chicago-area schools, which is also a letter of support for students' ability to access it, read it, and learn from it.
Here's a copy of the email I just sent:
Dear Principal Dignam,
Hi there. I'm James Bucky Carter, an English Education professor and comics-and-literacy scholar. My work on comics and education has appeared in publications from MLA, NCTE, ALAN and ASCD. I have been a keynote or featured speaker on the subject at NCTE affiliates in NY, NH, OR, MO, NC, IO, and ID.
I'm writing in support of the graphic novel _Persepolis_, which, according to some media outlets, is being challenged in your schools?:
Please trust me when I tell you that Marjane Satrapi's _Persepolis_ is an excellent graphic novel for inclusion in public schools and libraries. As well, my research indicates that it is one of three graphic novels with which teachers are most familiar at the national level (along with Maus and American Born Chinese). Lesson plans and articles have been written on how to teach it. You might see the Marla Harris chapter on teaching it in my book _Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels_, published by NCTE and a best-seller for them. You might see Susan Spangler's chapter on integrating Persepolis into the ELA classroom by visiting the online _Journal of Media Literacy Education_. There is also a rationale for teaching the first volume of Persepolis available on the CDrom/ebook _Rationales for Teaching Graphic Novels_. Alan Webb has some great articles and a book on exploring literature from the Middle East in the American ELA classroom.
Simply put, there is no lack of information regarding teacher's respect for this text or how to use it effectively in a secondary school classroom.
I have recommended _Persepolis_ for secondary audiences for many years. I have taught it in my YA lit classes for many years. While it is true that the book can be seen as controversial from any number of parties (I've had christian students express frustration with it as well as Muslim students), its potential to open dialogue and discourse at a time when our country and the Middle East need to find understandings.... Well, it might be unparallelled.
I encourage you to support this inclusion of _Persepolis_ in your school's classrooms and libraries, to encourage your teachers to support the text as well, and I hope you might share this support across Chicago.
Thank you for the work you do. If I can be of any help, do not hesitate to call upon me.