Jane Austen novel given ‘gender stereotyping’ trigger warning

As narrator, Austen also wryly comments on the imbalance between men and women at the time, writing with regard to Regency romantic property: “It must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her.”

She also mocks women having to pretend to be stupid to please men, writing “a woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”

The fact that Austen ironically and humorously handles gender roles in Northanger Abbey, and her other works, has led to claims that the Greenwich trigger warning is inappropriate.

Prof Dennis Hayes, education expert at the University of Derby and director of the campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom, said: “Through her great wit, expressed through her characters, Jane Austen offends everyone in her novels. She is the mistress of offense. That’s why we love her work from her.

“Students love her too. But some academics still seem to think their students are snowflakes and need coddling. How often do we have to remind them, and university management, that students are adults. They must stop infantilizing them.

“Universities should put up one simple statement: Trigger warning – this is a university, you must expect to be offended.”

A Greenwich spokesman said: “Content warnings were first used in July 2021, in response to student requests relayed to the teaching team via their student representatives during the 2020/21 academic year. It was agreed that Content Warnings should be included in reading lists so that students would be able to take them into account before encountering each text.”

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