kis·met \ˈkiz-ˌmet, -mət\ - noun; often capitalized
1. fate.
"We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language.
That may be the measure of our lives." - Toni Morrison

"Growing up Southern is a privilege, really. It's more than where you're born; it's an idea and state of mind that seems imparted at birth. It's more than loving fried chicken, sweet tea, football, and country music. It’s being hospitable, devoted to front porches, magnolias, moon pies, coca-cola... and each other. We don't become Southern - we're born that way." - Unknown

15 October 2010


Earlier this week in my poetry class I was angry because we can't study Beat poetry.
The professor briefly mentioned their influence, but can't go in-depth into their poetry.
I'm sure by now you're all wondering why.
It's the same reason why there was so much controversy over "The Kiss" being banned from the Rodin* exhibit at the Museum of Art on campus.

While I understand that BYU is a private (largely religious) university and can do whatever they want to, sometimes they get a little extremely censorship-happy. Most of the concern over "The Kiss" was the nudity factor. Parents were bothered by the fact that their kids would be going to that museum. Okay, but if you're concerned about an exhibit, you don't have to take your children. By show of hands, who has been to an art museum where there wasn't some nudity in a painting or a sculpture? It kind of comes with the territory of an art museum. I remember going to one as a kid on a school field trip. I saw some naked people in the paintings. I wasn't scarred for life. In fact, I accepted that it was art, and moved on.

The debate over the Beats is the language factor. Yes, there is quite a bit of profanity (among other things) in Beat poetry. But honestly, if you're an English major and can't handle some language, you probably shouldn't be an English major. i.e. every book I've read thus far in my English education (both in high school and college) has had some language or sexual references, etc. Like nudity in the art museum, it comes with the territory of literature. Especially modern and postmodern literature; i.e. 20th century to the present.

All I'm trying to say is that if you get so offended by things that you read that you complain to the extent that an entire (extremely important and influential) genre of poetry gets cut from my 20th century American poetry class, go change your major to engineering or chemistry, or something.

It's not my intention to offend anybody with this post, and I apologize if I have. It's just something I feel very strongly about. I hate censorship. We're all adults here. This shouldn't be an issue at a university where we are supposed to be able to learn uninhibitedly.

*for those of you who don't know, Rodin is the artist of that sculpture, and "The Kiss" is one of his most famous pieces


Mrs. Davis @ The Carolina Housewife said...

I don't understand censoring ANYTHING at a college? Grown adults, starting in college and going forward, shouldn't be censored from anything. Especially art of any variety. If someone personally chooses not to include certain types of things in their life, that's their decision but the line is drawn when others start making that decision for them. Ludicrous.

Alyssa said...

I couldn't agree more. I was furious. Spencer and I talked about this yesterday, and said exactly what you said in your comment. It's so true: if someone chooses to exclude something from their life, that's fine; it's their choice. But censoring what we can study or what art we can see is crazy.

There is one English professor that feels the same way I do. She's incredible, so I take every class I can from her. It' such a nice change from some of the others.

Mrs. Davis @ The Carolina Housewife said...

I'm really sorry that's happening to you. But your time in school there is almost up and then hopefully you guys will be back to South Carolina! :-)

Karen said...

BYU standards are exactly why most students attend BYU. And while reading profanity (among other things) is different than using it, it is still quite offensive to the Spirit. I guess this is why they make those decisions. I am sure there are plenty of other works that are not quite so "in-your-face" with things of that nature. Maybe things that might be offensive to some should be left to explore in depth on your own if you so choose.

Alex said...

People at BYU get offended over just about everything. They say its for keeping the spirit with them, but they obviously don't have it when they start judging you for doing something they deem to be unworthy. That entire campus reeks of hypocrisy. And Jamba Juice - that place is wonderful.

Alyssa said...

Alex, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Karen said...

While I agree that there most certainly would be hypocrisy among such a large group of church members, BYU as a institution is not hypocritical. They maintain their standards in a pretty consisitent manner. It is true that we should not judge others. While I agree with this blogger on the issue of the art in the museum (because you can choose to look or not) I disagree about the profane poetry being discussed as a class. As much as some might like to study it, there would be just as many that might not appreciate having to study it. Not to sound repetitive, but BYU stands out from other schools because it is also a place of spiritual development as well as a place of learning.

lotusgirl said...

Wow. Uh. There's nothing stopping you from studying the Beat poetry on your own. There's nothing that says you can't talk to the professor about the Beat poets and their style. I understand your frustration, but as far as the curriculum in the class, I can see BYUs stance as well. I reiterate something I said earlier in the year: Those who don't want to have any restrictions on the subject matter taught in class can choose to attend a multitude of other universities.

As far as the Rodin statue is concerned, that seems a bit much. Banning one of his most famous pieces from a Rodin exhibit? That's extreme. If they want to "protect" small children from seeing nudity, they could easily put "The Kiss" is a room with a caveat at the door for prudish parents (and/or students).