Browse Exhibits (5 total)

Censorship Battles

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This collection details Robert Cormier's thoughts on defending his work against censorship and also presents the perspectives of other parties who were engaged in battling censorship attempts.

Although Robert Cormier disliked having to address censorship and take time from his writing to defend his work, he was diligent in helping librarians and teachers who fought to keep his books in libraries, schools, and the hands of young readers. This section of the exhibit includes letter exchanges with individuals fighting in censorship battles and those seeking Cormier’s advice and assistance. Draft versions of Cormier’s essay “A Book is Not a House” along with his signed statement on the subject of censorship appear here.

Objectors

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This collection includes material surrounding the objections brought against Robert Cormier's work and a range of responses to those objections.

As an early pioneer in young adult realistic fiction, Robert Cormier had a number of objectors decrying the value and appropriateness of his work. Included in this selection are a collection of letter exchanges with readers and parents who took offense to Cormier’s books as well as from defenders seeking perspective and advice on approaching Cormier’s naysayers. Magazine coverage representing detractors and critics of Cormier are included along with defenses from Cormier and from students who gained from reading his work.

Robert Cormier as a Reader and Writer

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This collection features details on Robert Cormier's experiences and feeling on reading and writing. Works included here also paint an intimate picture of his relationships with young fans.

Robert Cormier responded to censorship battles in deeply personal ways, identifying with the victims of these public disagreements. Personal experiences, thoughts, and emotions drove his writing and so censorship marred the idea of trusting one’s own feelings and judgment. This section of the exhibit includes Cormier’s letters and loose drafts that address his motives as a writer and the significance of reading and writing to his, and by extension any child’s, young life. Pieces included here also describe Cormier’s hometown of Leominster, Massachusetts. Photographs of the area and of Cormier at home bring viewer into his writerly world.

Robert Cormier in the Classroom

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This collection showcases student writing and teachers' curricular work as it relates to Robert Cormier's novels. Because of the significant and relevant themes of his work and the ease of his writing, Robert Cormier’s novels were and still are often assigned readings in American middle schools. As a founding father of realistic fiction, his work is also a cornerstone to YA literature and so appears in college courses in YA literature. Students from middle school to graduate school have interacted with Cormier’s work in rich and varied ways represented in this section of the exhibit. Included are letter exchanges with students and classes, teacher lesson plans, and student projects and papers.

Self-Censorship and Outside Authority

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This collection highlights Robert Cormier's ethical and authorial choices in his work.

Often Cormier painted censorship as an exercise of fear – of reality, of truth – and of distrust. Distrust in the author’s self-censorship or editorial prowess; distrust in the intelligence of children or of the populace. To Cormier, censorship is a vote of no confidence in the author, the reader, and the thought process that encourages the relationship between the two.

Artifacts in this section of the exhibit chronicle Cormier’s feelings on the writer’s and reader’s roles and the threat censors play to those roles. These documents include letters with students and teachers, typescripts of some of Cormier’s speaking events, magazine and journal articles, as well as draft material from The Chocolate War.