Liberating Lite…

Liberating Literature
By: Julie Weier

For the past three years, Illinois College has held an event on Banned Books. It is an

effort combined with various colleges, libraries, and book stores across the nation to fulfill the

American Library Association’s (ALA) mission that they have worked on for thirty years. This

mission is to celebrate the rights of free speech and free expression.

Dr. Chris Oldenburg, the organizer for the event, stated “The Banned Books Contest is to

call awareness to the fact that voices are being censored and to show that it is wrong. I hoped

with this event that we could expose students to things they haven’t seen before.”

Dr. Oldenburg said that this year was the most successful compared to the past three

years. It was also the first year that he had turned the event into a contest. Seventeen students and

three faculty members participated in reading from 9a.m. to 1p.m. and each spoke about their

book for fifteen minutes. Participant, Frankie Kimmel, said that he enjoyed being involved

because of his experience in public speaking and expresses that he would like to do it again next

The participants were mainly upper-classmen majoring in English, but there were a few

that were not. Dr. Oldenburg believes that there was not more variation because people can be

afraid of public speaking and it is a controversial subject where words and phrases that are

unconventional are being used. But for the participants, their presentation was judged on their

argument presented as why it should be read and on their delivery.

Jami Di Gearhart and Erin Tighe won first place and $150 for their presentations on

Where the Wild Things Are and the Lorax. Brett Lurkins won second place and $75 for his

presentation on Of Mice and Men. For third place, Logan Giesing won $25 on her presentation of

Next year, Dr. Oldenburg is hoping to have an even better turn out and is contemplating

making the whole event available for convo credit. He wants to keep this event going because he

says, “I started the event to give voice to suppressed Literature. And for the event, it didn’t

matter if you are a good public speaker or reader but the fact that matters is that you stood up for

liberating literature. For all parts, triumph and tragedy, are a part of the human condition.”


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