One has to wonder how recent college graduates will survive for five minutes after leaving their university confines. The New Republic reports that students at several universities are now demanding “trigger warnings” on course syllabi for material that might make certain snowflakes uncomfortable.
On college campuses across the country, a growing number of students are demanding trigger warnings on class content. Many instructors are obliging with alerts in handouts and before presentations, even emailing notes of caution ahead of class…Oberlin College has published an official document on triggers, advising faculty members to “be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,” to remove triggering material when it doesn’t “directly” contribute to learning goals and “strongly consider” developing a policy to make “triggering material” optional.
Conservative arguments against this kind of stupidity are obvious and often repeated – students can simply opt out of reading Chaucer, Shakespeare, Richardson, Faulkner, and 99 percent of romantic comedies (TW: Cis-heteronormativity) simply by saying they were triggered by the material in question, which gives students too much power over their instructors. However, what is wonderfully perverse about the demand for trigger warnings is the effect that it could have on Cultural Studies. Off the top of my head, here is a list of authors and their associated fields of study that would require trigger warnings. This is just in the field of Literature, so feel free to add more in the comments.
African American Studies
James Baldwin (Torture, Racism)
Alice Walker (Rape, Incest, Racism)
Toni Morrison (Just about everything)
American Indian Studies
American Indian Folklore (Rape, Violence)
Leslie Marmon Silko (Violence)
Sherman Alexie (Rape, Violence)
Jewish American Studies
Where would one even start?
Sue Brownmiller (Rape)
Andrea Dworkin (Extremely graphic descriptions of rape)
Eve Ensler (Even more rape)
TNR mentions Chinua Achebe (Racism, colonialism, violence, suicide, religious persecution,) but this rule would make Joseph Conrad, the go-to whipping boy of Postcolonial Studies, completely off-limits. In fact, if colonialism is a trigger, this entire field of study is questionable.
Jean Rhys (Racism, Sexism, Violence)
Aphra Behn (Torture, Racism)
Franz Fanon (Torture, Racism)
Michel Foucault (Torture, Imprisonment, Sexual Sadism)
Sigmund Freud (Sex, Violence)
Karl Marx (Violence)
That’s just a start. It’s almost as if college students are trying to graduate without ever having to read anything. Needless to say, conservative students will never be granted this kind of courtesy (TW: Socialism, TW: Professor thinks that you’re Hitler.)