Reading Challenged Books

Reading Time: 3 minutes
“Against Banned Books (Please Spread This Pic & The Text)” by florian.b is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Book bans and book challenges are nothing new. In fact, Digital Dialogs explored how book bans and challenges have been a part of our culture for centuries in “Banned and Burned: Why Worry? It’s Just Kiddie Lit.”

Book challenges of the past can seem eerily similar to book challenges today. During the John’s Committee Investigations at the University of South Florida (USF) in the mid-1960s, a number of books and readings, including some written by USF faculty, came under scrutiny for vulgarity, anti-religious sentiment, communist leanings, and pornography.  The John Stewart Allen papers and the John W. Egerton Papers, which document the earliest years of USF, offer insight into the impacts of the John’s Committee investigations as well as provide us with a list of material challenged either by the committee or by concerned citizens.

All but one of the challenged materials from the John’s Committee Investigations are available at the USF Libraries today, so you can read and evaluate for yourself.

Written by USF Faculty

Two books that were specifically called out were written by USF faculty, who were teaching at USF at the time the investigations took place.  These texts were not necessarily assigned reading in any class, but they were used to call into question the character of faculty.

Course Readings

Assigned Books

Some of the following texts are no strangers to book challenges and banning, and all were also identified as an attack on the morals of USF students:

The American Library Association tracks challenges and book bans and keeps a list of the most banned books in the country each year. Book challenges in 2022, numbering over 1,200, were the highest ever tracked since ALA began compiling data more than 20 years ago.  Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, challenged during the John’s Committee Investigations, showed up on the top ten list as recently as 2010 and is often found on the 100 most challenged books of every decade.

Find more information on banned books via the USF Libraries Academic Freedom and the Inclusive and Equitable Classroom library guide.

Go Back