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Denham Goes Online to Offer Course on Banned Book

by | Feb 10, 2022

Dr. Scott Denham

Dr. Scott Denham, professor of German Studies at Davidson College, takes to heart a quote attributed to John Wesley, “Do all the good you can for all the people you can . . . “ He began teaching the Holocaust to high school students through the college’s July Experience, always using Maus as one of the texts.The book is a graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, son of a Holocaust survivor. His comic depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. Maus was first published in 1980.

When the McMinn County (Tennessee) School Board voted unanimously to remove Maus from its curriculum, soon before the Holocaust unit was to begin, Denham decided to do what he could. With his background in German studies, he knew that censorship is often a first step toward authoritarianism. Having the skills, knowledge, and experience to teach the book, he is offering a free online course to McMinn County students, eighth grade and up, who want to study Maus.

With the course beginning soon, Denham has interviewed interested students via Zoom. The course will begin February 14. To protect their identity, he is not revealing even the number of students who have registered. The course will be conducted twice weekly through live, synchronous sessions. To add authenticity and variety to the course, Denham has invited three others to join the team: the author’s assistant, who did all the actual lay-out and proofing of the book, a “comics expert,” and a person who leads workshops on helping teachers learn how to teach Maus.

Denham will also lead a “Humanities in Class Webinar ” on Maus through the National Humanities Center next fall. These webinars are free and open to all K-12 teachers.

Locally, Main Street Books has Maus available in the store or order online.

Jennie Clifton

Jennie Clifton, a Concord native, taught high school Latin in Georgia, where she was a Tar Heel in exile until she and her husband Cecil, a Davidson graduate, retired here in 2011. They are now enjoying life at The Pines.

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