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University adds content warnings to classic children’s tales

University bosses have slapped trigger warnings on a series of children’s classic books that have enthralled millions of youngsters down the generations.

Dozens of titles, including Tarzan, Robinson Crusoe and Black Beauty, have been given “content warnings” in case of offending undergraduates on English courses at Leeds University, although many are normally considered to be children’s books.

The university warnings are listed in a 17-page document issued by its school of English, giving content notes for 63 of the 71 modules which make up its undergraduate courses, the Mail On Sunday reports.

It highlights 43 novels, plays, poems, films and other texts with a long list of “potentially troubling or sensitive” content such as war, death, violence, suicide, sexuality, race and racism, abortion, social class, poverty, destitution, transphobia, eating disorders and the use of hate speech and outdated and unacceptable language.

Students at Leeds are warned that Anna Sewell’s 1877 novel Black Beauty contains “depictions of cruelty to animals.”

Daniel Defoe’s 1719 adventure story Robinson Crusoe is also under the spotlight because it “discusses race and slavery’ as well as ‘typical attitudes of its time.”

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Citizens Advice

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Guidelines also state it “features racist language and depictions of racial violence.” Warnings have also been raised on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s 1912 classic Tarzan Of The Apes, which is said to contain “expressions of racism.”

Earlier examples include Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

A Leeds University spokesperson stated: “We actively encourage our students to encounter new ideas and experiences, and we find that content notes provide a supportive way to introduce a wide range of texts.”

But Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the enwspaper: “Each week brings more ludicrous examples of universities cosseting adults from the “horrors” of children’s literature.

“Universities are supposed to be places of higher learning. Perhaps the first thing that they should be teaching their students is that the real world doesn’t come with a trigger warning.”

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