“Trigger warnings” on syllabi — this book may be upsetting — are the latest campus fad, the New York Times reports.
Students want to be forewarned that Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice deals with anti-Semitism or that Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway addresses a combat veteran’s suicide. Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby includes “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,” a Rutgers student writes.
The National Association of Scholars has announced a Trigger Warning Contest: What should readers be warned about before reading, say, Hamlet, The Republic, Anne of Green Gables, or The Wind in the Willows? Or the classic of your choice.
Readers can submit entries on Twitter, including NAS’s handle and the hashtag #triggerwarningfail.
The Iliad: warning – disturbing scene for those suffering sports injuries. #triggerwarningfail @NASorg
Oedipus Rex: warning – prejudicial treatment of alternative family structures. #triggerwarningfail @NASorg
Gulliver’s Travels: warning – size-ist. #triggerwarningfail @NASorg
The top three trigger warnings will be announced on Friday. Each submitter in the top three will receive a copy of NAS president Peter Wood’s book, A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now (warning: not recommended for the apiphobic).