As an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science, Joan Bessman Taylor studies recreational reading and writing. She’s interested in what and how people read, and the importance they place on recreational reading.
Bessman Taylor is currently pursuing two research projects. One explores a 1951 censorship trial in Dubuque, Iowa, in which a city librarian, May Clark, and two UI English professors—Paul Engle and W.R. Irwin—were subpoenaed to give expert testimony. The case contextualizes key ideological shifts regarding intellectual freedom in society.
Her other project is an examination of the products, history, and interactions of two amateur press associations (APAs). APAs typically have 12 to 40 members, each of whom self-publish a small periodical for others to read and comment on. They served as virtual communities for interest areas like science fiction long before the Internet.
Bessman Taylor earned her Ph.D. in library and information science from the University of Illinois in 2007 and joined Iowa’s faculty that same year. She has had two children since her arrival, making for a busy but exciting couple of years. “The UI’s family-friendly policies indicate respect for the health and wholeness of our community,” she said.