Biblioclasm: The Organized Destruction of Books

byJayme Holaway Hicks

This unit explores one way in which people who are trying to control or eliminate another people will destroy their books. In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Calaban urges Trinculo and Stefano to kill Prospero and burn the library. Calaban says; "take away his books first for without them he is sot." We will look at how the "first target of the tyrant is the library." A look back in history will prove this point. From an examination of fire, to the symbolism of the book, to the fiery destruction of books, students will discover the value of the written word. The unit will show that burning books is the physical incarnation of censorship and often even genocide. They are part of seemingly incessant efforts to destroy and censor information that rightly is freely available to every human.

(Developed for Language Arts, grade 9; recommended for English and Language Arts, grades 9-12)

Comments (1)

    Sophia Manoulian Kugeares (St. Petersburg College , Tarpon Springs, FL)
    Subject taught: Humanities
    A better message
    I find this information fascinating because I have thought about the angle of \"shooting oneself in the foot\" by slacking off on education, but I usually framed my statements in the form of begging or chiding students to take advantage of the free educational opportunities that are available. This method of aligning the lack of attention to education with enslavement offers a more powerful message. It\'s more accurate, more visual, more impactful! I am on board.

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