Joan DelFattore (born 1946 in Newark, New Jersey) is a professor emerita of English and legal studies at the University of Delaware and well-known advocate for academic freedom. Her book What Johnny Shouldn't Read: Textbook Censorship in America (Yale University Press, 1992) won the American Library Association's Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award.


  • A few years ago, I taught a summer course in literary classics for high school English teachers. When the class began talking about Romeo and Juliet, two of the teachers had trouble following what the others were saying. These two teachers were using high school literature anthologies; the rest of the class had read paperback versions of Romeo and Juliet. We compared the high school anthologies with the paperbacks and found more than three hundred lines missing from the play in each anthology. Neither textbook mentioned that its presentation of Romeo and Juliet was definitely not Shakespeare's.
    In the anthologies, lines containing sexual material—even such mild words as bosom and maidenhood—were missing. Removing most of the love story shortened Romeo and Juliet considerably, but the publishers did not stop there; they also took out material that had nothing to do with sex. Both anthologies, for example, omitted Romeo's lines,
When the devout religion of mine eye
Maintains such falsehoods, then turn tears to fires;
And these who, often drown'd, could never die,
Transparent heretics, to burn for liars! (I, 2)”
  • In more than three decades as an academic, I have seen the faculty express unwillingness to deal with pain-in-the-neck academic activities, such as repetitive low-level advising, course scheduling, fund-raising, alumni services, the running of some programs, and the preparation of dossiers and other reports. Over time, staff were hired to fill these roles, and — surprise! — started to make decisions and generally to run the place.
  • For the first seven years that I worked full-time as an adult, I had no legal right to a credit card, mortgage, or other line of credit. Although no law barred unmarried women from obtaining credit, banks and other lending institutions could, and often did, reject our applications without even pretending that it was for some other reason. It wasn't until 1974 that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act banned discrimination on the basis of marital status.
    Back then, that legislation was viewed as a matter of gender equity because credit had not been widely denied to unmarried men and because the new law also prohibited lending institutions from requiring married women to have their husbands' permission to obtain credit. If you've read or seen Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, you may recall that the government subjugated women by preventing them from having access to money independent of men. That wasn't fantasy or imagination on Atwood's part. It was memory.

  Encyclopedic article on Joan DelFattore on Wikipedia