Censorship in American Literature

The First Amendment of the United State Constitution provides a guarantee of freedom of speech, however, some of the great titles in American literature have been censored including books by Mark Twain, (Huckleberry Finn), J. D. Salinger (Catcher in The Rye), Harper Lee, (To Kill a Mockingbird). In this presentation Maryrose Carroll will provide an overview of censorship in American looking at several famous national examples and share her personal story of censorship.

Carroll’s late husband, Paul Carroll, with the help of the ACLU, successfully overcame attempts to censor his small magazine Big Table in the late fifties. Both the University of Chicago and the U.S. Post Office tried to censor Big Table for its inclusion of what were then new writers, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. Burroughs’ book Naked Lunch (excerpted in Big Table) has since been judged one of the 100 most important novels of the twentieth century. Through personal story and famous cases Carroll explores the history of censorship and obscenity and how these socio-cultural concepts have changed over time.