Jane Austen Novel receives trigger warning for ‘gender stereotyping’ and ‘sexism’

Academics at the University of Greenwich have attached a trigger warning to an 1871 novel by Jane Austen. 

Austen’s work, Northanger Abbey, was flagged as portraying “sexism” and “gender stereotypes’ ‘ by lectures at the academic institution. 

It was reported that the book, which is included in the university’s Gothic literature module, was said to contain, “elements that students might find disturbing”.

Northanger Abbey tells the story of Catherine Morland, a young woman who comes to suspect that her suitor’s father may be a murderer after becoming fascinated by novels featuring similar Gothic themes. 

Professor Dennis Hayes of the University of Derby who is the director of campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom, reportedly called for academics to “stop infantilising” and “coddling” students.

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

The book, written over 200 years ago, has been summarised as beginning by “introducing us to its heroine, Catherine Morland, an unexceptional but kind girl of seventeen.”

Catherine grew up “in the countryside, the eldest daughter of a parson in a family of ten children. Catherine is a plain child, but gets prettier as she gets older. She also begins to care about her clothing and obsessively reads novels.”

Austen’s protagonist is “thrilled to be invited by a rich, childless couple from her neighborhood, Mr. Allen and Mrs. Allen, to take her first trip away from home. When she arrives in the vacation town of Bath, Catherine is disappointed to find that Mrs. Allen, who cares about little other than clothing, knows no one.”

The story evolves as Catherine meets a young man called Henry Tilney who she finds attractive and hopes to meet again soon. 

Northanger Abbey was adapted for television by ITV in 2007. 


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