What’s That? Banned books chair

Decoupaged with words and pictures, the banned books chair is a favorite in the Kelly Writers House.

    • This is …
      Banned Books Chair, covered in stickers of banned book covers.
    • It lives …

      Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk

      The banned books chair is among about 50 beloved mismatched chairs in the Arts Café, the many-windowed main room on the first floor. The red-painted Windsor is covered in a collage of titles, the idea of then-student Kaegan Sparks, a 2010 graduate. It is one of five theme chairs that were decoupaged with words and pictures, including the haiku chair, the six-word-memoir chair, the chair-chair also called the meta chair, and the Paul Kelly chair, a nod to the first benefactor of the Writers House, founded in 1995. The chairs are used by audiences at events and students during classes and anyone else who finds themselves in the Writers House, a 13-room Tudor built in 1851, one of the oldest buildings on Penn’s campus.

    • It’s cool because …

      “You would think that the ultra-chair in our collection, the chair of chairs, would indeed be the ‘chair chair!’ After all, the people of the Writers House are nothing if not poetically self-reflexive,” says Al Filreis, founder and faculty director of the Kelly Writers House; the Kelly Family Professor of English; and director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. “But truly the most important of our chairs is the banned books chair: We would not exist without books, and if you happen to sit in that chair during one of our programs, you will be put to ease by the very fact that you and we want all books to exist always and to, having been read carefully, to be in the ongoing conversation.”

      Read more about the Kelly Writers House chairs at Penn Today.

      “What’s That?” is a new series in Penn Today highlighting noteworthy items, iconic objects, and hidden treasures on Penn’s campus.

stickers of banned book covers on the Banned Books chair.