The Politics of Reviewing in An Age of Book Banning

A look back at some key moments in attempts to ban or disappear books in America and how the current wave of book banning makes book reviewing more vexed and urgent.


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About Maureen Corrigan

Maureen Corrigan is The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism in the Department of English. She is an expert in the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the literature of New York City, American detective fiction, American Women's Autobiography, the work of American Public Intellectuals in the 20th Century, and 19th century British poetry and prose. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in the social criticism of Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin and William Morris. She received her B.A. in English from Fordham University. For the past 34 years, Corrigan has been the weekly book critic on the Peabody Award-winning NPR program, ''Fresh Air.'' She is also a Mystery Columnist for The Washington Post and publishes regularly on NPR on-line and The Wall Street Journal. Other reviews and essays have been published in Salon, The Atlantic on-line, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, Newsday, The New York Observer, The Village Voice, The Pennsylvania Gazette and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

She has received the 2023 John Seigenthaler "Legends Award," the 2023 Kukula Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction Reviewing from Washington Monthly Magazine, The National Book Critics Circle 2018 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and The 1999 Edgar Award in Criticism.

Corrigan served as a curator and continues to serve as an Advisory Board member and video exhibit guide for the American Writers Museum in Chicago. Corrigan served as a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, as a juror and panel head for the LA Times Book Prize for two consecutive years, and as advisor to the National Endowment for the Arts ''Big Read'' Project. She served on The Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary. She is the author and presenter of the 24 lecture series on banned and challenged books entitled, "Banned Books, Burned Books: Forbidden Literary Works" (Great Courses/Wondrium, 2023). Her latest book, So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures was selected as an Editors' Choice by The New York Times Book Review, and named as a Best Book of 2014 by Library Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Kansas City Star. Her literary memoir, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading (Random House) was published in 2005.

Other Books and Recent Collected Essays include: "Introduction" to the 100th Anniversary Edition of Willa Cather's A Lost Lady (Vintage, 2023), The Mysterious Case of Agatha Christie (An Audible Audiobook Original published 2021), ''Foreword'' to The Penguin Collected Nellie Bly (2014), ''David Copperfield'' in The Books That Changed My LIfe (Gotham Books, 2006); Mystery and Suspense Writers (2 volumes) editor and contributor with Robin Winks. (Scribners,1999), Winner, Edgar Award in Criticism, Mystery Writers of America.