Incoming Duke Freshmen Upset About Reading Fun Home Because It Compromises Their Beliefs

Some of the incoming freshmen class at Duke University are upset over the summer reading assignment, claiming that Alison Bechdel’s critically acclaimed Fun Home offends their personal and religious beliefs. Fun Home is a graphic novel about Alison Bechdel’s relationship with her father and coming to terms with her own sexuality as a lesbian woman. The novel also grapples with themes around family dysfunction, suicide, depression, gender roles and growing up — all things that seem very relevant to a group on the precipice of entering an institution free from the constraints of their parents, ready and eager to find out all the world has to offer. Not so much at Duke!

Apparently, a few members of the class of 2019 are upset at the “graphic” depictions of sexuality and nudity and are concerned that Duke’s administration isn’t taking their conservative beliefs into consideration when assigning this work. According to the Duke Chronicle, Brian Grasso, an incoming freshmen, took to the Duke Class of 2019 Facebook page to express himself:

Freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page July 26 that he would not read the book “because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality,” igniting conversation among students…“I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Grasso wrote in the post.

Grasso’s comments opened the gates for other scandalized college freshmen to bravely share their feelings of persecution at the hands of a benign graphic novel depicting a very real story about a situation that is not heteronormative or traditional. Some other students took offense at the format of the work itself. Just listen to the improbably-named Jeffery Wuddenhurst, who said in an email, “The nature of Fun Home means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature.”

The reaction around this is stupid, clearly, but will most likely make for a very lively couple of weeks on campus as students learn how to flex their outrage muscle from both sides of the fence. Maybe that conversation will be more valuable than anything else.

[The Duke Chronicle]