“Outlawed: The Naked Truth about Censored Literature for Young People,” is a conference coming to Fresno State April 10-12. Sponsored by Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, the conference will examine the various means of censorship in literature for the young and the ways in which it affects their reading choices.
Event organizers say censorship can manifest in several ways, from blatant challenges and bans to more subtle forms of pre-and self-censorship occurring at the selection level. The conference will feature seven notable authors and activists who will explore the impact of censorship from a variety of perspectives.
- Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the 2014 National Book Award for her work “Brown Girl Dreaming,” will discuss challenges her books have received.
- Lesléa Newman will speak about the controversy in the 1990s about her book “Heather Has Two Mommies.”
- Matt de la Peña’s book “Mexican White Boy,” was banned in Tuscon, Arizona when Mexican American Studies programs in high schools were suddenly prohibited in 2012.
- Margarita Engle will discuss her experiences with censorship as a Cuban-American author.
- Michael Cart, a young adult author and a reviewer for Booklist, will speak about the suppression of LGBTQ literature.
- Leonard Marcus, a children’s literature historian and exhibition curator, will bring a larger perspective to the issue of intellectual freedom in children’s literature.
- Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, will discuss her ongoing fight to defend First Amendment rights.
Registration for the conference is now open. Tickets for the three day event are $155 for current Arne Nixon Center Advocates members and $185 for non-members.
Sherman Alexie, renowned author, poet, and filmmaker, will kick-off the “Outlawed” conference with a presentation the day before. Free and open to the public, “An Evening with Sherman Alexie” will be held at 7:30 p.m., April 9 at the Satellite Student Union on campus. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
The conference will also feature an exclusive performance of the play “And Then Came Tango.” Written by Emily Freeman and directed by Fresno State professor J. Daniel Herring, the play is based on the banned picture book “And Tango Makes Three.” The book was inspired by the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins living at the New York Public Zoo. After building a nest and trying desperately to hatch a rock they had found, a sympathetic zookeeper exchanges it for a fertilized egg. The pair successfully hatch a baby penguin to become a contented family.
The conference accepted submissions from over forty teachers, librarians, and academics. Attracting international attention, proposals for talks were received from academics in six countries in addition to those from across the United States.