As one of the greatest works on Britain’s literary canon, one thousand nine hundred and eighty-four appears to be a frightening warning about the dangers of censorship.
University of Northampton staff have now issued a release warning of George Orwell’s novel on the grounds that it contains “explicit material” that some students may find “offensive and disturbing”.
The advice, which was revealed in the wake of a freedom of information request by The Mail on Sunday, angered critics, who said it contradicted the themes in the book.
University of Northampton staff has now issued a release warning for George Orwell’s novel on the grounds that it contains “explicit material” that some students may find “offensive and disturbing”.
Published in 1949, Orwell’s dystopian story — set in a totalitarian state that oppresses individual thought — gave the world such phrases as “big brother,” “talk” and “intellectual police.”
Its plot centers around Winston Smith, a government employee who is arrested and tortured over an illicit affair, but it also makes strong points about what can happen to a society that doesn’t cherish academic freedoms or its own history.
However, it is one of many literary works reported by students in Northampton studying a unit called Identity in Construction. They were warned that the unit “addresses the difficult issues of violence, sexuality, gender, class, race, abuse, sexual assault, political ideas and offensive language.”
In addition to Orwell’s book, academics have identified several works in Unity as potentially “offensive and disturbing” including Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame, and the graphic novel V For Vendetta by Alan Moore, David Lloyd and Janet Winterson’s Sexing The Cherry.
The core novel has been regularly adapted for theater and screen, including a popular movie starring John Hurt
“There is a certain irony in that students are given immediate warnings before reading eighty-nine and eighty-four,’ said Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP. Our campuses are fast becoming Big Brother miserable areas as the new language is practiced to reduce the range of intellectual thought and eliminate speakers who don’t get along with it.
Many of us – and nowhere more clearly than our universities – have given up our rights to freely conform to instead a homogeneous society governed by a liberal elite that “protects” us from ideas they think are too extreme for our feelings. “
Orwell biographer David Taylor said, “I think 13-year-olds might find some of the scenes in the novel disturbing, but I don’t think anyone of their undergraduate age is really shocked by the book anymore.”
The core novel has been regularly adapted for theater and screen, including a popular movie starring John Hurt.
Northampton has also issued warnings about other modules in the English degree course. Students are alerted, for example, that Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time includes “the death of an animal, ability and disability and offensive language.”
Northampton has also issued warnings about other modules in the English degree course
References to “sex, sexuality, assault, violence, self-harm and suicide” have also been made in Sally Rooney’s “Ordinary People”, which was adapted for a successful BBC series in 2020 starring Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal.
Northampton, which received full university status only in 2005, ranks 101 in a list of 121 universities in the UK.
A spokesperson said: “While this is not university policy, we may caution students about content related to violence, sexual violence, domestic violence and suicide. In these circumstances we make it clear to applicants as part of the recruitment process that their course will include some challenging texts. This is reinforced by teachers during They progress through their program of study.
“We realize that some texts can be challenging for some students and we have taken this into account when developing our courses.”
Earlier this month, The Mail on Sunday reported how University of Salford students received an “immediate warning” about Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Charles Dickens’ grandiose expectations.
Undergraduates in English literature are warned about “scenes and discussions of violence and sexual violence in many primary texts” that they may find “painful”.