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Dear Readers Beyond Bars: Banned Manga and Explicitness in US Prison Censorship

Organizer: A/P/A Institute at NYU
Venue: Jefferson Market Library
425 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10011 United States
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Add to Calendar 10/24/2023 06:30 PM 10/24/2023 08:30 PM America/New_York Dear Readers Beyond Bars: Banned Manga and Explicitness in US Prison Censorship More detail: https://apa.nyu.edu/event/dear-readers-beyond-bars-banned-manga-and-explicitness-in-us-prison-censorship/ Jefferson Market Library, New York, NY, 10011

Presented by Readers Beyond Bars. Co-sponsored by NYC Books Through Bars, the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, and Arko.

Why do prisons and public schools often deem manga sexually explicit? How can protecting incarcerated and young adult readers’ right to read protect sexual speech more broadly? Meet three experts with deep knowledge on these matters. Paul Wright (Prison Legal News), Jeff Trexler (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), and Renee Scott (NYPL). Their respective practices engage issues of free speech, intellectual freedom, and comics, particularly manga. They work with and on behalf of readers both behind and beyond bars. Drawing from their experience, panelists will speak to publication censorship’s effects on contemporary US educational and carceral systems. At the same time, the panelists will address what makes manga (a type of comic and graphic novel associated with East Asian culture) sexually explicit in these systems. How can we provide better access to such material for incarcerated people and youth without full access to the constitutional rights of adult US citizens? To these ends, how might we radically re-imagine technology in our era of e-publishing and digital surveillance? The panelists will discuss collective strategies for navigating and negating current US publication censorship biases.

Moderated bt Sue Jeong Ka (visual artist) and Kim Bobier (Pratt Institute)

Registration is not required.


Paul Wright is the founder and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center. He is also editor of Prison Legal News (PLN), the longest-running independent prisoner rights publication in US history. When he founded PLN, Wright was serving a twenty-five-year sentence for a murder conviction stemming from the botched robbery of a cocaine dealer. He was imprisoned for seventeen years until his release in 2003.

Jeff Trexler is a lawyer, ethics advisor, and crisis manager with a focus on creative industries including media, fashion, and comics, as well as all types of nonprofit organizations. Currently, he is the Interim Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. He earned his JD from Yale Law School and his PhD in American Religious History from Duke University.

Renee Scott is a young adult librarian at the New York Public Library. ​Working in the library field for nearly two decades, she has an extensive knowledge of YA literature, TV shows, and pop culture. She is a fan of anime, manga, comics, and all things nerdy. When she is not working at the library, she attends and presents at Comic Cons, live music shows, and festivals.

Sue Jeong Ka is a researcher, artist, and community organizer. She initiated The Banned Book List, a data-driven project based on American prisons’ banned book lists that grapples with carceral censorship and the architecture of surveillance.

Kim Bobier is an art historian of modern and contemporary art and adjunct assistant professor at Pratt Institute’s Department of History of Art & Design. Her teaching and research focus on social justice lenses while emphasizing Black visual production and theory, critical race studies, surveillance studies, archives, and intersectional and transnational feminism.


Accessibility note: The Jefferson Market Library is classified as fully accessible. For access needs, please contact jeffersonmarket@nypl.org or 212-243-4334


Image courtesy Sue Jeong Ka.