The Hamden Book Discussion Group is pleased to announce that Professor Mark Schenker of Yale University will be the guest moderator for its discussion of Kurt Vonnegut’s
novel “Slaughterhouse Five,” on Wednesday, December 5th at 7:00 p.m.
The discussion will take place in the Activity Room of the Senior Center at 2901 Dixwell Avenue in Hamden.
Mark J. Schenker has been at Yale College since 1990. He is currently an associate dean of the College and dean of academic affairs. Formerly a lecturer in the English Department, he received his Ph.D. from Columbia University (Victorian Literature). He has led book
discussion series in public libraries in CT for more than 20 years. In 2001, he received the Wilbur Cross Award for Outstanding Humanities Scholar, presented by the Connecticut Humanities Council.
Ranked the 18th greatest English language novel of the 20th century by Modern Library, it is generally recognized as Vonnegut's most influential and popular work. “Slaughterhouse Five” has been the subject of many attempts at censorship, due to its irreverent tone and
purportedly obscene content.
In the novel, American soldiers use profanity; his language is irreverent; and the book depicts sex. It was one of the first literary acknowledgments that homosexual men, referred to in the novel as "fairies," were among the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
In the USA it has at times been banned from literature classes, removed from school libraries, and struck from literary curricula; however, it is still taught in some schools.
The U.S. Supreme Court considered the First Amendment implications of the removal of the book, among others, from public school libraries in the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico, [457 U.S. 853 (1982)], and concluded that "local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to 'prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.'"
“Slaughterhouse Five” continues to be controversial. In August of 2011, the novel was banned at the Republic High School in Missouri. The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library countered by offering 150 free copies of the novel to Republic High School students on a first come, first served basis.
“Slaughterhouse Five” was originally scheduled for September’s discussion in honor of Banned Books Week. The discussion date was changed in order to accommodate Mr. Schenker’s schedule.
Copies of the book will be available at Miller Memorial Library in Hamden. There is no fee for the program and the public is welcome to attend. For more information please call 203-287-2680.