Title page for ETD etd-02012006-141721

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Graham, Joyce L.
URN etd-02012006-141721
Title Freeing Maya Angelou's Caged Bird
Degree PhD
Department Education Curriculum and Instruction
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Nespor, Jan K. Committee Co-Chair
Small, Robert C. Jr. Committee Co-Chair
Garrison, James E. Committee Member
Kelly, Patricia Proudfoot Committee Member
Self, Warren P. Committee Member
  • Literature history and criticism
Date of Defense 1991-08-05
Availability restricted

This study involves a comprehensive examination of one book, Maya Angelou's autobiographical I Know Why Why the Caged Bird Sings, since it was first published in 1970. Recognized as an important literary work, the novel is used in many middle and secondary school classrooms throughout the united States. Additionally, the work often is challenged in public schools on the grounds of its sexual and/or racial content.

The purpose of this study included establishing the importance of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as a significant literary work; documenting how and why the book is used in schools; recording the censorship history of the book and preparing a case study as an example of how censorship complaints can arise and how they can be handled. Additionally, this dissertation includes the interview responses of the book's author to various issues dealt with in this study.

In this study, the researcher examined the reception of the book by reviewers at the time of publication and the literary criticism written about the book during the past twenty years. After examining the literary merits of the book, the researcher established the context in which the book came to be included in school classrooms. An historical account of the censorship challenges raised against the book is included. Finally, a case study is used as a point of reference to illustrate how a censorship challenge might come about when Maya Angelou's book is used in schools.

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