Banned Books: Symbols of Positive Ideological Shifts

As literature lovers, it is our instinctual response to regard Banned Books Week with a modicum of solemn reflection; a week when we think about the thousands of people unable to enrich their literary lives with profound works like Animal Farm, Lolita, and Harry Potter (my personal favorite). The loss of awareness is something all literary scholars dread and actively work to stave off. Emotionally, the idea of “banned books” hits upon a specific nerve found especially in those who deeply love the written word.

Read Banned Books While I recognize the need for pensive contemplation, I propose that English students, academics, and aficionados adopt a new emotional regard for the week. Instead of thinking about the losses and setbacks caused by banned or burned books, we should observe the celebration of shifts in human ideology and history. Many books are banned because they conflict with historically sensitive events. When we’re still learning how to deal with these ideological conflicts, the literature supporting controversial beliefs is often the first thing to be villainized.

Banned Books PersepolisFor example, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, is a memoir detailing the author’s experiences growing up during the Iranian Revolution. The critically acclaimed text has received accolades for its honest and visceral depiction of such a politically charged and controversial historical moment. However, Persepolis is one of the most contested books of the past decade. Many reasons for banning the text stemmed from anti-Islam relations following a post 9/11 ideological shift. The lifted ban on Persepolis signaled the merit of Satrapi’s text and was indicative of the tensions between America and Iran at the time. In this case, and many others like it, literature and book-banning history reflected the tumultuous issues occurring in contemporary society.

Instead of looking at Banned Books Week as a solemn affair, let’s regard it as a symbolic indicator of human progress and achievement. If that doesn’t seem sufficient enough reason to celebrate, Banned Books Week exemplifies the dynamic power of literature as a touchstone for humanity.

Banned Books Persepolis comicSo celebrate by reading a recently challenged book, or just read Harry Potter again as I am doing.

Banned Books Week Social Media Contest

In celebration of Banned Books Week Sigma Tau Delta and National English Honor Society are teaming up to host a contest across our combined social media accounts. We want to hear about your favorite banned book! To participate you must tag us in a post about your favorite banned book on any of the following social media accounts:

In need of some inspiration for your post? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Share a photo of your favorite banned book on Instagram
  • Share your favorite quote from a banned book on Twitter
  • Share your rationale against banning books, or banning a particular book, on Facebook
  • Send us a Snap talking about your favorite Banned Book

The contest will run from Sunday, September 25-Saturday, October 1. Everyone who participates during this time frame will be entered in a drawing to win one of three $25 Amazon gift cards. A $45 Amazon gift card also will be awarded to the best overall post. You may post to multiple accounts to improve your odds of winning, but please tell us about a different book in each post!


Banned Books Haley HelgesenHaley Helgesen
Student Representative, Midwestern Region, 2016-2017
Phi Delta Chapter
Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL

An Eye-Opening and Goal-Affirming Internship: My Time with Penn Press

Penn Press--Elizabeth Hallgren headLiz Hallgren
2015 Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend Recipient
Alpha Ro Theta Chapter
Macalester College, St. Paul, MN

This summer I had the opportunity to intern with Penn Press, the University of Pennsylvania’s scholarly publishing company. I always have considered working in scholarly publishing, so for me, this internship was a dream come true. However, this internship would have been just that—a dream—if not for the help of Sigma Tau Delta. I commuted from Baltimore to Philadelphia (about three hours door-to-door!) in order to participate in this internship, a trip that would not have been possible without the Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend. I cannot thank Sigma Tau Delta enough for supporting my internship experience, as it proved a pivotal step in my career path. My time with Penn Press allowed me to inform my career goals and gain an inside look at the publishing world.

Penn Press--Elizabeth Hallgren 2.1During my time at Penn Press I worked in the Journals and Acquisitions Departments, participated in press meetings, and took part in informational seminars. Because the program was comprehensive, allowing me to work professionally while also acting as a student of publishing, I developed an enlightened perspective on my career goals and on this field. Among other lessons, Penn Press taught me the important differences between scholarly and trade publishing, and the ways in which scholarly publishing is a multi-dimensional field.

While working in the Journals and Acquisitions Departments I was reminded daily that the publishing world is deep with each of its parts working to reach similar, but distinct, goals. Both departments reinforced that scholarly publishing is a field of its own, unique from trade publishing. My previous view of publishing was amorphous, ignoring the nuances between trade and scholarly publishing. However, at Penn Press I realized scholarly publishing departs from trade publishing in its emphasis not on sales, but on meaningful contributing to scholarly conversations. Each day Penn Press members worked tirelessly to promote and champion original, intellectual thought, showing me scholarly publishing is mission-oriented, requiring a passion for academia. The goal-oriented environment at Penn Press was inspiring, confirming my desire to work in a field that values intellectual property and the accessibility of ideas.

Penn Press--Elizabeth Hallgren 6Penn Press not only showed me scholarly publishing is a field with a focused mission, but also that this field is multifaceted. Before this internship I focused on the editorial side of publishing without realizing I was ignoring the multitudes of other people and tasks involved in bringing a book to fruition. Because Penn Press had a transparent and comprehensive internship program I was able to gain access to the sides of publishing I had never experienced before, learning for the first time about the intricacies of marketing, production, and business management in publishing. Seeing each of these different departments utilize unique skills while working together was informative, revealing that scholarly publishing provides an option for a wide array of learners and workers. Because of Penn Press my perspective on publishing as both a field and a career is expanded, and my goals affirmed.

Penn Press--Elizabeth Hallgren 4Requiring an avid interest in a spectrum of subjects, and combining unique skill sets, scholarly publishing provides a career opportunity that encourages one to learn constantly while calling upon an array of strengths. Seeing how scholarly publishing allows one to be both a professional and a student at the same time was encouraging to me, as someone with a passion for both publishing and academia. This internship allowed me to determine that scholarly publishing is a fulfilling career option, and thanks to Penn Press and to Sigma Tau Delta, I can pursue my goals confidently!

When have you had a goal-affirming experience regarding your desired career path?


 Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend

Application Period: February 1 – March 21
Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying summer internships. The Summer Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each.

The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the internship’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Decisions will be made by May 2.

My Indie Summer Internship at Wise Ink

Abigail TupaAbigail Tupa
2015 Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend Recipient
Alpha Rho Chi Chapter
St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

According to the New York Times, 81 percent of Americans claim it is a dream of theirs to write a book, but how many of those ever end up published? I was honored to spend the summer helping writers who truly were dedicated to this goal as an editorial intern for Wise Ink Creative Publishing in Minneapolis, MN.

Wise Ink was founded in 2012 and thus is a relatively new member of the publishing community in the Twin Cities. While the company is still small—just four permanent staff members—I quickly came to value the close-knit atmosphere within the office and the witty banter that ensued among coworkers. I also soon realized it was an advantageous time to be interning for Wise Ink—working for this budding company offered me insights not only into the world of publishing, but also into the opportunities and challenges of growing a business. I consistently was invited to participate in company strategy meetings and to voice my opinions on ways the company could reach new markets. This factor was an unanticipated learning experience for me, but aligned well with my academic concentration in management studies.

Row of booksMy tasks as an editorial intern included improving the company’s social media presence, creating marketing resources for authors, and composing posts for the company’s blog, but my favorite task was completing final reviews of book manuscripts. Over the course of the summer I poured through pages of historical fiction, self-help, and young adult fiction, among others. I thrive during detail-oriented projects, and I found it secretly thrilling to locate grammar and punctuation mistakes a paid professional had missed.

In addition to the skills I developed for copyediting and proofreading, I also learned to use social media more effectively to educate the public about indie publishing. Prior to landing an internship with Wise Ink, I myself had limited knowledge of the term “indie publishing.” I now know it is a growing niche within the industry, but it only recently has become a respectable publishing option for authors. Many people still believe the indie publishing process involves self-editing and designing one’s own book cover. In reality, indie authors often use the same host of resources traditionally-published authors are provided. The key difference between indie and traditional publishing is control: Indie authors have exclusive rights to their work at the end of the publishing process.

Wise InkUltimately, interning for Wise Ink attuned me to the changing needs of modern authors, whose jobs do not end with the completion of a manuscript. Today’s indie authors need support with their book launches, advertising, marketing, and social media management in order to be noticed by the public.

Receiving the Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend truly made my summer internship experience possible. The financial support ensured I had viable transportation to and from the Minneapolis office each day for the unpaid internship. As a student who typically depends upon her summer earnings to cover the cost of textbooks and tuition, Sigma Tau Delta’s assistance also reduced my need for educational loans.

Spending a summer in the Wise Ink office certainly sparked my curiosity in the different types of publishing available in the modern day. I now have a grasp on indie publishing, and am eager to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing as well. Perhaps most importantly, interning for a publishing company reconnected me with my creative roots and inspired me to refocus on my own writing goals. Interacting with local writers in particular renewed my determination to leave the ranks of the 81 percent who merely aspire to be authors, and to constructively work toward publishing a book of my own.


Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend

Application Period: February 1 – March 21
Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying summer internships. The Summer Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each.

The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the internship’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Decisions will be made by May 2.