A minimum of ten UK universities have eliminated books from course examine lists or made the texts non-obligatory to be able to shield college students from “difficult” content material, an investigation has discovered.

In keeping with The Occasions, Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad, which received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, has been “eliminated completely” from a studying record at Essex College due to considerations about graphic depictions of slavery.

Different focused texts embrace Swedish author August Strindberg’s 1888 play Miss Julie, which has been axed from an undergraduate literature module at Sussex College as a result of it comprises dialogue of suicide.

The 2 universities “are regarded as the primary within the UK which have purged books altogether”, stated The Telegraph.

One other eight establishments, “together with Russell Group members Warwick, Exeter and Glasgow, have made texts non-obligatory to guard college students’ welfare”, The Occasions reported.

The paper despatched virtually 300 freedom of data requests to officers at universities throughout the UK, and uncovered 1,081 examples of set off warnings throughout undergraduate programs. Influential British authors together with William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens have been reportedly “amongst these whose works have been deemed regarding sufficient to require warnings”.

The investigation additionally discovered that college students had been given set off warnings earlier than learning The Bible, due to “surprising sexual violence”, and Oliver Twist, due to “little one abuse”.

‘Cosseting college students’

The observe of censoring “difficult” college texts “ought to stop earlier than it goes any additional”, stated The Occasions in its chief yesterday. “Cosseting college students isn’t any a part of the ethos of training.”

The paper described set off warnings as a “corrosive phenomenon” and argued that college students “who take offence on the content material of books they’re set must be advised, civilly however firmly, that if their sensibilities want defending then the academy will not be the place for them”.

A string of high-profile figures have additionally spoken out towards the censorship of books.

“That is fairly terrifying,” tweeted broadcaster Mariella Frostrup in response to the investigation findings. “Will we burn them subsequent?” The Mail on Sunday columnist and fellow Twitter person Dan Hodges requested how such bans have been “potential in a British College in 2022”.

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Index on Censorship, stated withdrawing texts over descriptions of slavery was “fatuous, patronising and profoundly racist”. Tory chief hopeful Liz Truss agreed that universities “shouldn’t be mollycoddling college students like this”.

‘Inclusive setting’

On the opposite facet of the argument, historian Caroline Dodds Pennock accused The Occasions of an “embarrassing” exaggeration of the state of affairs at Britain’s universities. “Two books. Universities eliminated two books. In the complete nation,” she tweeted.

Liam Thorp, political editor on the Liverpool Echo, was equally scathing. “Because the UK braces for potential blackouts, hovering poverty and struggling – The Occasions thinks the most important story of the day is a few books not being taught at a couple of universities anymore,” Thorp tweeted.

Aberdeen College confronted criticism final week for placing a set off warning on the Outdated English epic poem Beowulf, which dates again to between the eighth and eleventh centuries. 

In response, a spokesperson for the college advised regional newspaper The Press and Journal that “this method allows us to discover controversial matters that would in any other case be troublesome to deal with in an inclusive and supportive setting”.

The “tips on content material warnings” have been “developed in collaboration with pupil representatives”, and college students “have expressed their admiration for our method”, the spokesperson added.