College student Tara Shultz is the latest in a long line of people to be shocked to find that Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's graphic memoir about growing up during the Iranian revolution, contains violence.
A 20-year-old attending Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California, was so dismayed by the graphic content in four of the graphic novels required by her English 250 course -- official description: "the study of the graphic novel as a viable medium of literature through readings, in-class discussion and analytical assignments" -- that she and her parents are seeking to have them banned by the administration.
In addition to Persepolis, Shultz took exception to Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra's Y: The Last Man, and Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg & Co.'s The Sandman: The Doll's House, due to the depictions of sex, violence and "obscenities."
"I didn’t expect to open the book and see that graphic material within," she told the Redlands Daily Facts. "I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography."
Associate professor Ryan Bartlett, who has taught the course for three semesters with no previous complaints, defended the books.
"I chose several highly acclaimed, award-winning graphic novels in my English 250 course not because they are purportedly racy but because each speaks to the struggles of the human condition," he said. "As Faulkner states, ‘The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.’ The same may be said about reading literature. The characters in the chosen graphic novels are all struggling with issues of morality, self discovery, heart break, etc."
Don't tell that to Shultz and her parents, who protested Thursday outside the campus administration building, asking that, at the very minimum, the college slap a warning label on the class. However, Shultz would like them to go further.
"At most I would like the books eradicated from the system," she said. "I don’t want them taught anymore. I don’t want anyone else to have to read this garbage." And her father trotted out the who-will-think-of-the-children argument, saying, "We haven’t gotten into the issue of these books being sold in the bookstore and there are under-aged kids here at this campus."