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Students at Rutgers Get Trigger Warnings in Classics and History Course

Students at Rutgers Get Trigger Warnings in Classics and History Course

“I think it’s better to prepare the students than to surprise them.”

If you need trigger warnings for a course in Greek and Roman history, maybe you’re not ready for college.

Campus Reform reports:

Rutgers students provided with ‘trigger’ warnings in Classics and history courses

A professor at Rutgers University-Camden is using trigger warnings for his Greek and Roman literature and history classes.

In an interview with Rutgers-Camden News Now, associate professor Evan Jewell explained that historians are wrestling with the need to condemn discrimination in their course material.

“People have rightfully come to a more critical stance against continuing attitudes of racism and misogyny,” he said. “So how do we teach an ancient society where misogyny, sexual assault, and harassment were the norm and built into the classic texts that we read?”

Jewell believes that academics must present these themes carefully — namely, through alerting students before presenting concepts that might “trigger” a negative experience.

“There are debates whether taking such an approach doesn’t prepare them for the real world,” he acknowledged. “Conversely, some argue that, if someone has had a traumatic assault, the discussion might trigger this experience. I think it’s better to prepare the students than to surprise them.”

As Rutgers-Camden News Now describes, Jewell once experienced an incident “where a student had equated homosexuality with pederasty — a romantic relationship between an adult male and younger male — that was socially acceptable in ancient Greece.”

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Comments

“So how do we teach an ancient society where misogyny, sexual assault, and harassment were the norm and built into the classic texts that we read?”

If the people of the past could be transported to our time they’d likely find plenty to condemn about us also. Overall I’m inclined to agree that the ancient world was significantly less just than we are, but if you’re going to teach a now-dead culture then perhaps a place to start would be (with very few exceptions of exceptional malevolence, such as Nazi Germany) from a neutral viewpoint.

For those who lived then were no less human than you, and their opinions are not necessarily less valid than yours just because they died a long time ago.

Starting from an assumption that you are in all important ways morally superior to these people is an arrogance that can only disfigure and distort any academic inquiry into who these people were, and why they lived as they did.

HImmanuelson | April 24, 2021 at 6:06 pm

Gee, how about simply commenting to the students that their society was not the same as ours; they lived thousands of years ago and had different beliefs and one can’t reasonably judge a society from thousands of years ago with modern sensibilities?

The Friendly Grizzly | April 24, 2021 at 7:26 pm

Rutgers joins Harvard, Stanford, and others as punchlines.

You can’t study history of very long ago anywhere in the world without understanding that if some place was conquered you ended up with a lot of “servi”. I am just so “triggered”. I need a “safe space”.

Incidentally, the real people owed reparations in this country are Native Americans. This was their country and we killed them, conquered them, stole their land and put them in what amounts to concentration camps, where over a million still live today. Interestingly, I never learned this in school, but after I saw a map exhibit at Ellis Island showing the millions of Native Americans living throughout the entire country. hundreds of years ago.

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