Who’s Banning the Watchmen? : Teaching Watchmen in High Schools

Banned books are commonly discussed in schools across America in many different ways. Some schools read ‘banned’ books and discuss the controversy surrounding that book, and other schools discuss the next book they want to ban. However, when one talks about banned books, one probably does not think about a ban on graphic novels being taught. At least in my high school, the only graphic novels one read was one that they read on their own terms, but there are schools that teach graphic novels. One graphic novel that is commonly taught and has been challenged in high schools, is Watchmen by Alan Moore.

When one reads Watchmen, one can probably see where the challenge to ban the novel comes in with the graphic gore scenes, sex scenes, and the morality of some of the characters. However, one can argue those same issues rise in your average canon novel as well. So why is it different with a graphic novel? Is it because there are illustrations included, so one is not left to their imagination for the images that the author is trying to instill in the readers mind? However, that should not keep a teacher from teaching this novel.

One of the graphic gore scene in Chapter 12 of Watchmen (c) 1986
One of the graphic gore scene in Chapter 12 of Watchmen (c) 1986
One of the sex scenes that could cause controversy when teaching Watchmen (c) 1986
One of the sex scenes that could cause controversy when teaching Watchmen (c) 1986
Rorschach (c) 1986. A character in the Watchmen who's character development could be studied in a classroom
Rorschach (c) 1986. A character in the Watchmen who’s character development could be studied in a classroom

 

 

When teaching Watchmen, instead of focusing on some of the messages, one should look at is as a whole. Teach the controversial ending (don’t worry I won’t spoil it), and how the reader perceive it. Have the students take a character and have them look at the character development. There are many different aspects that can be taught through Watchmen. It is a novel that is different from other novels students will read during their time in school, but it can be taught in the same manner.

In banning books, people need to realize they need to see the bigger picture of the novels message. Just because one does not agree with some aspects of the book, doesn’t mean it should be banned. When teaching a book that as controversial subjects, one should discuss the controversy instead of getting rid of it. So go on, continue teaching Watchmen, because sometimes it is nice to take a break from the boring canon books.

 

Additional readings:

http://www.aplithelp.com/watchmen/

http://cbldf.org/banned-comic/banned-challenged-comics/case-study-watchmen/

 

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