But Liberals don’t understand satire…

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has introduced a new contest, and is inviting readers submit satirical, politically correct subtitles for classic literature works.

The “Update the Classics: Add a PC Subtitle” contest was announced September 19, and features the example submission, Tom Sawyer: Lessons in Whitewashing.

“Add a politically correct subtitle to the book of the week, and win the admiration of contrarians everywhere.”   

“Add a politically correct subtitle to the book of the week, and win the admiration of contrarians everywhere,” the instructions state. “Winners will add a subtitle that transforms the book into something today’s sensitive yet resentful students can’t resist.”

The inspiration for the competition, NAS explains, came from a request by students at Columbia University for “trigger warnings” when studying mythology, particularly for tales involving rape.

Last year, in an op-ed for the student newspaper, four Columbia undergraduates wrote that the university has an obligation to provide trigger warnings to students, even for Greek mythology or romantic poetry.

“Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ is a fixture of [Literature Humanities], but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom,” the students argue. “These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.”

NAS says it finds such disparagement of classic works to be regretful, hence the competition to humorously draw attention to the “progressive content” in the works.

For example, the organization suggests that a social justice reading of Crime and Punishment could focus on the story of a student so burdened by loans that he eventually kills his lender.

“Bernie Sanders should take note. What better case for free college?” NAS remarks cheekily.

Another example submission suggests that “those tired of the jargon-filled tomes on ‘intersectionality,’ the idea that all oppression is linked, generally by capitalism, should try The Merchant of Venice. Members of two different ethnicities feud over money, demonstrating the capitalist origins of racial tension.”

According to the contest rules, NAS will propose a classic book (or series of books) as the subject for a satirical subtitle each week. Readers can enter submissions either on Twitter with the hashtag #PCSubtitle and the NAS Twitter handle, @NASorg, or else through the form on the contest page.

Winners will be announced weekly on the NAS website.

We regret that the classics have been so maligned. Human traits transcend time and custom, and classics have stood the test of time because they teach lessons that resonate in all times and places.

In fact, we believe that if we squint hard enough, we can find in the classics some progressive material that should appeal to social justice warriors too. We can bring the classics up to date. A group of artists, dedicated to giving old books fresh covers, have done their part. Their project, “Recovering the Classics,” strikes us as worthwhile but a mere facelift. We want to go deeper. In the spirit of our satirical “trigger warning contest,” we suggest proposing new politically correct labels for classic works, in order to demonstrate the progressive content buried deep inside each one.  

Classic books, if you search this way and that for long enough, can teach you lots of up-to-date, politically correct lessons. Take Crime and Punishment. A stressed-out student, dogged by debt, is driven to the extremes of mental illness until he finally kills his lender. Bernie Sanders should take note. What better case for free college?

Sometimes the title alone hints at good progressive lessons. To make those themes explicit, we recommend re-subtitling Our Man in Havana: Fidel Castro’s Legacy of Liberation and Reform and Fahrenheit 451: Projected Earth Surface Temperature in the 22nd Century.

Will you help us build our collection? Every new politically correct subtitle will help rescue a classic from the dustbins of discarded volumes.

Each week we’ll propose a classic book—or a slate of classics—that needs a new PC subtitle. Send in your recommendations, and each week we’ll select a winner to announce on our website, along with runners-up. Share your submissions on Twitter with the hashtag #PCSubtitle and the NAS Twitter handle @NASorg. You can also fill out the form at the bottom of this post. 

This week’s assignment is Jane Austen. Pick any Austen book and let us know your new subtitle. Here’s our suggestion:

Pride and Prejudice:  Finding Safe Spaces for Queer Folks Under Heteronormative Tyranny. #PCSubtitle @NASorg

Timothy Street| September 19, 2016

I Ernestly recommend that all the subtitles submitted be collected in a suggested reading list : “A Farewell to Alarms”


John J Stephan| September 19, 2016

Title for PC Manual on teaching English lit without Shakespeare:

As We Like It

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