Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
By Alison Bechdel
Reasons for Challenges: Violence and other (“graphic images”)
This is a graphic-memoir exploring Alison Bechdel’s relationship with her father alongside her personal exploration of self. It’s a pretty quick read, and very powerfully done.
A number of the challenges to this book have been on the College and University level. When the book was placed on the summer reading list for Duke University, there were a number of students who opposed it being on the list (an opted not to read it).
“I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” wrote one student in a Facebook page discussion. Several students argued that it would help to expose them to new perspectives, but the students who opposed the book were quite vocal, claiming that the book was pornographic. This is a reflection of some of the challenges the book has faced at in higher-education. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a nice case study of the history of challenges of the book.
Here’s the thing that gets me – we’re talking about college students. Adults. And in all cases it was optional reading or the student was offered an alternative reading. It’s not a “save the children” call, but clearly due to the content of the book itself. Yes, there are drawings of violence, there are illustrations of naked bodies, there is talk of homosexuality (because, while not blatently stated in some of these cases it’s pretty clearly part of the concern). But this is a book for adults to read – and reading a book you disagree with hardly means it is going to compromise your values… if a simple book can do that perhaps you don’t hold those values too tightly?
I can understand the concerns by some parents when looking at public libraries and being concerned that the book – due to the fact that it’s a graphic novel – might be miss-shelved in a place where children’ would think it’s for them (because it certainly isn’t a children’s book). But to try and remove it from the hands of college students is much harder to put into an understandable framework.
At the College of Charleston, in South Carolina, the House of Representatives cut funding due to the inclusion of the book on their summer reading list.
“…the book asks important questions about family, identity, and the transition to adulthood…. These are important questions for all college students…. I’m concerned that some members of the (L)egislature believe their duties include deciding what books should and should not be taught in a college classroom…. I believe that 18-year-olds benefit directly from reading and discussing difficult topics in their courses.” – Professor Christopher Korey, head of the summer reading program at College of Charelston.”
The government stepping into a higher education setting and trying to dictate what can and cannot be taught… it’s painful that such things are still happening.