Recent years have seen an uptick in challenged books in public school curriculums and libraries, with school districts across the nation facing concerns from parents and legislators alike. The American Library Association has tracked attempted book bans in states from Utah to New Jersey, and notably, in October 2021, Texas State Representative Matt Krause recommended over eight hundred titles for review statewide because of their treatment of race, gender, sexuality, and more. Given that Krause has declined interviews regarding how these titles were compiled, this research investigated their synopses to develop a deeper understanding of the types of literature that have been deemed inappropriate. According to both qualitative coding and computational analysis via topic modeling, Krause’s book list was overwhelmingly comprised young adult fiction featuring LGBTQ+ characters; content relating to sex education and race appeared in lower quantities. These findings, alongside several inconsistencies regarding the inclusion of particular texts, suggests that literature both in this list and at large is often challenged without a comprehensive understanding of their content and value to readers.
Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover: Understanding Contested Literature in Texas School Districts
- Fellow: Charis Shin
- Advisor: Richard Miller