Yes yes it's been awhile, thanks. I reassure you that I yet cling to this awful thing called life. It's just that sometimes, apparently, one is obligated to yell at real-life as opposed to strictly internet assholes, and this is a time-consuming process.
So there was this thing in the New York Times about Trigger Warnings and College Book Reading Classes.
Should students about to read “The Great Gatsby” be forewarned about “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,” as one Rutgers student proposed? Would any book that addresses racism — like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or “Things Fall Apart” — have to be preceded by a note of caution? Do sexual images from Greek mythology need to come with a viewer-beware label?
Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.
This is fantastic.
Sincerely: the whole point of literature is to provoke arguments about precisely these issues. As soon as literature ceases to make everyone ask hard questions, I'll stop teaching it. If you're not annoyed, I'm not interested.
That said, when I teach my Banned Books class, I do preface the term by pointing out that we will be talking about dirty and terrible issues. But then again, I also tell students that a Banned Books course involves reading entire books. That frightens off more of them than any smut warning.
At any rate I'm far more sympathetic to feminist "trigger warning" arguments than to the far more common right-wing "trigger warning" arguments, even if in the end I might disagree. Everyone has triggers, you know? And anyway it's surely not feminists who are cutting funding for the liberal arts.