Arts & Entertainment | October 20, 2017 1:25 pm

Trigger Warnings Given at Cambridge University For Shakespeare Plays

Academics have criticized the warnings, saying they will "curtail academic freedom."

Academics are criticizing Cambridge University after students were given “trigger warnings” before a lecture focusing on Titus Andronicus and The Comedy of Errors. According to The Independentstudents were warned that the Shakespearean plays would include “discussions of sexual violence” and “sexual assault,” which are “potentially distressing topics.”

These trigger warnings were posted in the English Faculty’s “Notes on Lecture” document, which is given to students at the university, according to The Independent. 

Some people are concerned that colleges and universities are trying too hard to protect young adults from certain issues, and that the students will not be capable of dealing with real-life situations when they graduate. The Independent writes that supporters of trigger warnings say they serve to help students who may be upset if they are unexpectedly reminded of a personal traumatic experience.

Mary Beard, a professor of classics at Cambridge, thinks allowing students to avoid learning about traumatic episodes of history and literature is “fundamentally dishonest,” according to The Independent. 

“We have to encourage students to be able to face that, even when they find they’re awkward and difficult for all kinds of good reasons,” Beard previously said, reports The Independent. 

David Crilly, the artistic director at The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival said that students shouldn’t be in an English Literature course if they don’t already know that Titus Andronicus contains scenes of violence.

This degree of sensitivity will inevitably curtail academic freedom. If the academic staff are concerned they might say something students find uncomfortable they will avoid doing it,” he said, according to The Independent. 

A Cambridge University spokesperson told The Independent that there is no policy on trigger warnings, but some lecturers might indicate that sensitive material will be covered. It is entirely up to each professor.