University removes Jane Austen from literature course – media — Analysis
African American writer Toni Morrison will reportedly replace Austen, to help “decolonize the curriculum” at Stirling University
The UK’s Stirling University has reportedly removed works of iconic British novelist Jane Austin in a bid to “Contribute to greater diversity” of the English module.
The college will replace the author of classic bestselling romance novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with African-American Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, according to a Telegraph report on Wednesday, citing university documents. The papers state that replacing Austen with Morrison would contribute to “Decolonization of curriculum.”
The new material of the course will include themes different than those explored by Austen, with main topics being “Critical race theory and racial differences, as well as gender and sexuality” the documents read.
Stirling’s Special Authors course seeks to introduce students to “There are many writers available, both from abroad and British literature history.,” the university explained, according to the report. Those taking on the Special Authors module in 2022 will also be taught about “Black postmodernism and Gothic as well as aesthetics in the current US novel (and African-American one).”
It made clear it wasn’t making Austen the subject of criticism and stated that it changed its Special Authors module each year, as per Telegraph. The educational institution’s leadership has also added the ‘trigger warnings’ to the English course reading lists about “The language of colonialism” and about “Neocolonism.”
“The module covers topics such as colonialism, including violence against men and women, slavery, violence and racism. It also addresses issues related to representations of gender and class.,” one note on one of the English modules reportedly says.
In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests around the world, many British universities took various measures aimed at tackling the colonial heritage and increasing diversity, with Stirling University Principal Gerry McCormac saying in 2020 that the university must “Support an anti-racist agenda for higher education.”
This tendency saw a group of historians recommending that London’s Imperial College rename several buildings and remove certain statues. University of Cambridge and some other institutions have introduced “Warnings” to children’s classics. National Theatre Scotland banned the word ‘spooky’ for its alleged racist connotations. Many of those measures, especially removing and abusing statues and memorials, have been met with protest, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling on BLM-supporting activists not to try “Edit or censor” Britain’s past.
Jane Austen House Museum director Lizzie Dunford made headlines last year by pointing to Austen’s protagonists’ ‘colonial past’ habit of drinking tea. Her father, Rev George Austen, was a trustee at an Antigua sugar plantation. All these “Regency-era colonialism”-related facts in Jane Austen’s biography, as the museum director said, are supposed to have become subjects of “Historic interrogation” and would have to be reflected in the museum’s displays.
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