professornana (professornana) wrote,

  • Location:
  • Mood:

Custos Morum, aka The Gatekeeper

If you have not made it over to the web site designed by our own LJer thunderchikin and inspired by Paul Hankins and the tweet blitz known as #SpeakLoudly, do that now and then come back. URL is

Welcome back. When I logged into my Word A Day email today, lo and behold, a word meaning one who is a guardian of morals, a censor. Perfect fodder for my brain which was casting about for a different take on censorship for today's post celebrating #BBW and #SpeakLoudly. It brings to mind something I heard a while back in a discussion with Julie Anne Peters, Barry Lyga, and Coe Booth. My colleague Rosemary Chance and I did this panel for the first YALSA Literature Symposium (and we will be doing two presentations at the one in November in Albuquerque on international books and books for Hispanics) on the topic of censorship. One of the questions we posed was about each author's experience with challenges. In response, Barry Lyga talked about the fact that his books had not been challenged. When the audience expressed surprise, he talked about the gatekeepers, the Custos Morum of the world who did not even permit his books to make it to the shelves so that they might face a challenge. No readers, no challenges. Honestly, I had not even thought too much about gatekeeping. But suddenly, I was putting something together. A recent piece of research in Texas had indicated that many libraries did not have some of the most challenged books in the collections at all. So, this summer when I was interviewed about censorship, I had a lot to say about this almost passive form of censorship (though I would say it is more passive aggressive, right?).

How many books never make it to the shelves and into the hands of readers because of these gatekeepers, these self-appointed keepers of morals, these CENSORS? I suspect the numbers are quite high. I also would hazard guesses at the titles from 2010 that are being held off shelves in this gatekeeping effort. What a loss for the readers who will never know the perfect book for them at the time. What a loss for the authors whose works deserve a place on the shelves and an opportunity to touch the lives of readers.

It raises yet another issue as well, one that I will attempt to tackle tomorrow: what role does the review/reviewer play in all this?

Now I am heading back to read some more of A.D., a GN about Katrina. So far, I am bowled over.
Tags: #bbw, #speakloudly, censorship
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment