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Columbia administrators: Students need “trigger warnings” before studying…classical myths

May 13, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

File:Rape of Proserpina - Gian Lorenzo Bernini.jpg

Greek and Roman gods: White male oppressors

Yes, those myths about Persephone and Daphne are now deemed too rapey for the delicate female flowers planted in Columbia’s core “Literature Humanities” course–so let’s not read Ovid’s Metamorphoses anymore. How about a soothing ramble through Eat, Pray, Love instead?

Here’s what four members of Columbia’s Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board wrote for the Columbia Spectator:

“During the week spent on Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses,’ the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault, the student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work. However, the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text. As a result, the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class. When she approached her professor after class, the student said she was essentially dismissed, and her concerns were ignored.

“Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.”

Posted by Charlotte Allen


From → Uncategorized

  1. Heidi permalink

    Good golly. We sneer at Victorian prudishness and the Victorian ideals of femininity, but today’s multicultural feminists seem like utter wusses in comparison. These people won’t be happy until the entire Western lit canon is expurgated, to be replaced by approved narratives from poor women (womyn) of color and transgendered individuals.

  2. Way back in the seventies, we only needed caffeine to get through those classes, but maybe that’s because trigger warnings hadn’t been invented yet.

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