Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen ditched as university ‘decolonises curriculum’

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Students at Stirling University will instead be presented with works by African-American writer Toni Morrison, author of such books as Song of Solomon and Beloved. According to the institution, swapping Austen for Morrison would also “contribute to increased diversity” on the syllabus, according to forms informing management of alterations to course material.

In the latest attempt to diversify students’ understanding, and perhaps critically add a further layer of so-called woke culture, the University says the material will include markedly different themes compared to those in Austen’s novels.

Students were told: “The main topics covered will include racial difference and critical race theory, gender and sexuality.”

For students taking on the module entitled “Special Authors” in the 2022 academic year, they can also be expected to study “black postmodernism, Gothic, as well as the aesthetics of the contemporary US and African-American novel,” according to the new curriculum.

The changes to the course come following a commitment made in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, with Stirling University Principle Prof Gerry McCormac saying the institution must “support an anti-racist agenda in higher education.”

The Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of US police officers caused a global reaction to racial equality.

Figures such as Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen for their views on slavery and racial opinions.

Jane Austen in particular came under fire due to her father’s direct links to the slave trade in his role as a trustee at a sugar plantation in Antigua.

The English Literature department at the University stated the Special Authors module changes its curriculum on an annual basis.

The reading list for one English module states: “Some of the material in the module includes a discussion of colonialism (including colonial violence towards men and women), enslavement, violence, racism, sexism and issues surrounding representations of gender, class, race, and mental health.”

Historical colonialisms are not the only issue to receive a warning in the list of set texts, and another module warns some writings deal with issues of “neocolonialism”, adding: “This is challenging material that deals with inequalities and ‘difference’ in diverse settings.”

Stirling University has said its rotating Special Authors course “aims to introduce students to a diverse range of writers, including international voices and those from British literary history”.

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The move has sparked reactions from commentators on Twitter.

Tom Holland said: “I love the idea a British university, by dropping Britain’s most significant female novelist in favour of an American one, is somehow decolonising itself.”

He added: “Why don’t British humanities departments just admit the truth: they’re absolutely desperate to become outposts of American university culture?”

Replying to Mr Holland, Karper said: “Jane Austen is the quintessential English novelist. If you want to understand England’s past, you read Austen.

“If she’s replaced by an American, for political reasons, it’s only because they don’t want you to understand England’s past.”

Is the University right in making such a change to embrace diversity? Should students choose their own works to study at this level?  Has woke culture gone too far? Let us know what you think of these pressing questions by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!

Another user, Harris in Tokyo said: “Who did Jane Austen colonise? Sheets of paper?

Blaming the SNP, Joanne Henry said: “Jane Austen was a brilliant novelist.
“Very clever and witty.

“The SNP are ignorant cultural vandals and ought to be ashamed of themselves.

“Be assured, the change has come from them and their ideology.”

The University of Stirling has been contacted by for further comment.

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