Student protests graphic novels by Gaiman and Bechdel as ‘garbage’
A community college student in San Bernardino County is protesting the inclusion of four books in a graphic novels course because she’s offended by their violent and sexual content, the Redlands Daily Facts reports.
Tara Shultz, a Crafton Hills College student majoring in English and American Sign Language, is upset about the syllabus for an English 250 course, which requires students to read Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home,” Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House,” Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” and Brian Vaughan’s “Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned.”
“I didn’t expect to open the book and see that graphic material within,” Shultz told the newspaper. “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.”
Summer reading guide: The 136 books you’ll want to read
The graphic novels and memoirs in question have received broad acclaim. A Broadway adaptation of Bechdel’s memoir “Fun Home” won five 2015 Tony Awards last week, including best musical. Gaiman’s “Sandman” series has won a number of Eisner Awards; Brian K. Vaughn’s “The Last Man” series won five Eisners. An animated film adaptation of Satrapi’s “Persepolis,” another memoir, was nominated for an Oscar.
Shultz staged a protest on campus to object to the books, along with her parents and some friends. She says the course’s professor, Ryan Bartlett, should have warned the students about the books’ contents.
“At most I would like the books eradicated from the system,” Shultz said. “I don’t want them taught anymore. I don’t want anyone else to have to read this garbage.”
Bartlett says he has never heard a complaint about the material before. “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. “The course in question has also been supported by the faculty, administration and approved by the board.”
Shultz, 20, was joined in the protest by her parents. Her father, Greg Shultz, said, “If they [had] put a disclaimer on this, we wouldn’t have taken the course.”
Greg Shultz said that college administrators have agreed to provide a content warning for the books in upcoming classes. His daughter is still enrolled in the class.
Love a good book?
Get the latest news, events and more from the Los Angeles Times Book Club, and help us get L.A. reading and talking.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.