Thursday, March 27, 2014

Not Everyone Sees the "Fun" in "Fun Home"

Alison Bechdel's 2006 graphic memoir "Fun Home" was chosen by College of Charleston's College Reads Committee, to be the book for the First-Year Experience. However, not everyone sees the "fun" in "Fun Home."                                          

"Fun Home" book cover
In "Fun Home,"Bechdel keeps a dairy throughout her life that goes into detail about her relationship with her late father.  Her father was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home which her family referred to as  "Fun Home." She talks about her coming out as a lesbian and discovering her own father's true sexuality, as he was also gay.

 The book "Fun Home" is a story of two people who live under the same roof, live different lives, but through a journey of self identity, Bechdel realizes she really wasn't all that different from her father. 

The graphic memoir has caused some controversy throughout the state of South Carolina.

"Fun Home" has even gained national attention. South Carolina House of Representatives voted last month to cut funding for the college. The panel voted to cut $52,000 from the College of Charleston's budget for assigning "Fun Home," according to The Washington Post.

State Capital 
Last month in The Washington Post, Rep. Gary Smith, a Republican from Simpsonville, S.C., states his opinion on the matter. "One of the things I learned over the years is that if you want to make a point, you have to make it hurt," Smith, who pushed for the cuts, told The State newspaper. "I understand academic freedom, but this is not academic freedom...This was about promoting one side with no academic debate involved." 

Lynne Ford, associate provost for curriculum and academic association at CofC, said that when the committee met for the previous years book choice they, "wanted it to be something that kids can relate to but also give an introduction into what it means to read and think at a college level as apposed to a high school level," Ford said.

Lynne Ford
Ford said "Eating Animals" was the previous years choice and it was a hit, "Students were really into it. This book was by far the most successful College Reads choice we'd ever made," Ford said. So with all that hype the committee had a lot of pressure picking another book that would get students just as excited. 

Johnathan Safran Foer, author of "Eating Animals"was on campus shortly after his book was chosen to talk with the students and facility. "He was the one to introduce the committee to "Fun Home,"" 
Ford says.

Christopher Korey
"It's a perfect story. It is the quintessential coming of age story, set in the background of why liberal arts enriches peoples lives. She comes to find herself through literature, art, references to Greek tragedies. Every student who comes to college has to figure out who they are and who they are in relation to their family that they left behind," Ford says.

Christopher Korey, director of First Year Experience at CofC, is also a committee member and took part in choosing "Fun Home." 

"Definitely not. It is important that we choose books that introduce important ideas, provoke open discussion, and bring a story that is relevant to the time and place that our students live in," Korey said when asked if he would go back and change his choice.

Students around campus have mixed reviews about the book "Fun Home." 

Charlie Marshall
Cofc junior
Paige O'Dell
 CofC freshman
"I think it's more weird that they chose a comic like book to have college students read, then the actual subject matter.  I feel that freshman students shouldn't be subjected to that type of material though.  This is the south and with it being so conservative, I think that's why it's so controversial," said Charlie Marshall.

Paige O'Dell felt the opposite, she said, "It's a real world topic and people who got upset about it shouldn't send their kids to a liberal arts school.  Plus the reading wasn't required, it was just encouraged, so if it bothered someone they didn't have to read it. I don't see the big deal."

Ford said the committee has already chosen this years book for the fall semester. "The Good Soldiers" was their choice and legislation did ask to review it, but has later given the okay. For more information on this years book choice or past books, go to

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