Professor Donna Decker Article Featured in Boston Globe & 50 Years of Ms.
Oct 2, 2023
Professor of banned books warns: It’s ‘dangerous’ not to read
Literary fiction offers an essential source of empathy, Franklin Pierce University professor Donna M. Decker notes as Banned Book Week begins
On the first day of her “banned books” course at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., professor Donna M. Decker apologizes to her students.
She tells them she wishes the required reading list she hand-selected for their 15-week class could be much longer. The five full novels and assortment of excerpts give an overview of the literature types challenged most often for their controversial content. But there are so many important books being banned, she knows her syllabus could include many more.
Decker developed the course roughly 15 years ago and said she loves teaching it, especially now.
“We’ve got this tremendous surge in book challenges and book banning, so it’s a super important semester for me — and for the country, really,” she said.
The surge goes beyond efforts to sanitize the shelves inside K-12 schools. Organized groups are putting increased pressure on public libraries as well, according to the American Library Association, which has been tracking book challenges for more than two decades.
Read the full Boston Globe article here.
Professor of English Donna Decker’s feature article “Aftermath of Isla Vista” is included in the September 2023 publication: 50 Years of Ms.: THE BEST OF THE PATHFINDING MAGAZINE THAT IGNITED A REVOLUTION.
The heralded publication celebrates the foremost feminist magazine’s fifty years of
groundbreaking reporting and feature writing. Launched in Spring 1972, the magazine’s
first 300,000 print run sold out in eight days and garnered 26,000 subscribers.
Feminist writers featured in the book include Toni Morrison, Billie Jean King, Alison Bechdel, Joy Harjo, Audre Lorde, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Nawal el Saadawi, Alice Walker, Joyce Carol Oates, Adrienne Rich, Marge Piercy, and Barbara Ehrenreich.
Decker was selected to be part of the first cohort of the Ms. Committee of Scholars, a program designed to connect Ms. To the wide network of women’s and gender studies programs at colleges and universities nationwide. At the Washington, DC office, Decker participated in an intensive writers’ workshop to train feminist scholars to write for the popular press, expanding the reach of new research beyond the ivory tower and into the mainstream. It was through this experience and with the encouragement of Ms. Publisher Eleanor Smeal that Decker went on to publish her novel DANCING IN RED SHOES WILL KILL YOU (Inanna 2015) about the 1989 Montreal Massacre in which 14 engineering students were murdered in their classrooms, all of them women.
“Aftermath of Isla Vista” reports on the May 23, 2014 murder of six people by twenty-two-year-old Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista, California. Rodger left a 137-page manifesto and a YouTube video, “Day of Retribution,” indicating his actions were a “war on women” for the crime of “depriving me of sex.” Aligning himself with the incel (involuntary celibate) movement, Rodger demonstrated the link between hypermasculinity and violence. This crime launched the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen in response to the ubiquitous and defensive #Notall men hashtag. #YesAllWomen tweets peaked at 61,500 on May 25, two days after the massacre, and reached more than a million worldwide, as far away as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Qatar.
Decker will join other Ms. Magazine contributors at the Boston launch of 50 Years of Ms.: THE BEST OF THE PATHFINDING MAGAZINE THAT IGNITED A REVOLUTION in October.