Author Chris Cutcher presented: ‘Books Unite. Censorship Divides.’ On Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. at the Bicknell Center. Cutcher was invited for Banned Book Week.
“Tuesday night was a conversation with Chris Cutcher talking about the theme ‘books unite us, censorship divides us,” which is this year’s theme for banned books week,” said Ruth Monnier, learning outreach librarian. “Chris is an award-winning author and a lot of his books have been banned or challenged in different areas. It was a conversation of him talking about censorship and what has looked like in his career and in his life, as well as what does that mean for your future.”
Due to Covid-19, those in the audience could use smartphone technology to anonymously ask Cutcher questions or call them out to the stage. The event was live-streamed.
Cutcher was at the Bicknell throughout the day. He talked to high school students before attending a lunch with donors and performing the talk at the Bicknell Center.
“He spoke to just the campus and spoke to local high school students at their conferences and the banned books week showcase earlier in the morning. So he was here and got a lot of interactions with different portions of populations in this area,” Monnier said.
Cutcher was invited by a variety of different groups on campus as well as alumni.
“Chris has connections with PSU alumni. The Albertini family have been both alums of the university and have graciously given back. Through their support and support of student government, the office of student diversity, the English department, the library, and the Tilford group, there was funding to bring Cutcher (here),” Monnier said.
Another one of the reasons Cutcher was brought to campus was due to his experience with censorship and book banning.
“A lot of times people have elements of what they think censorship is—It’s done, it’s over or I can’t do anything about it. Chris really provides easy steps and takeaways on how to fight censorship and to support everyone’s right to read and to have access to information,” Monnier said. “In part, with banned books week, it is more than books that are being banned, so having that conversation and seeing it from a different perspective was a big goal, to help remind ourselves of the impact of censorship.”
Along with the speaker, the library also has a gallery in the basement to showcase what banned books week is about. The library also has been spreading awareness through social media.
“(We promote banned books week due to) the impact that it has on learners and readers. A lot of these topics and books that have been banned in the past are now normal curriculum for high schools in the area or introduction to English classes. Some of the big classic books were banned at some point in history,” said Kaedra Brenner, senior in plastics engineering and SGA president. “Seeing how impactful they are now and seeing how it could’ve been banned forever is kind of a thing to talk about.”