Trigger Warning Contest Winners

National Association of Scholars

It’s been a great week for NAS’s trigger-warning-writing contest! Thank you to all who participated on Twitter and Facebook and by email, as well as readers of the Washington Post, Power Line blog, and others. You helped make #triggerwarningfail a trend.

We asked readers to write and submit their best trigger warnings for classic books. In four days we received 224 submissions from 128 participants for 153 different books. The Bible and Moby Dick tied for the most submissions, and books by William Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Edgar Allen Poe were also among the most popular.

NAS president Peter Wood personally selected the top three.
Here are the winners:

  1. Lolita: Disturbing novel.  Narrator DOES NOT RECYCLE.
    By Earl V. Bobb (submitted by email)
  2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Warning: May Contain Nuts
    By Greg Britton @gmbritton
  3. Green Eggs and Ham: Glorifies GMOs.
    By Jim Eltringham @jimeltringham

Each winner will receive a free copy of Peter Wood’s book A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now. Winners can claim their copies by sending their mailing addresses to [email protected].

Honorable mentions:

  • Les Miserables: may cause paranoia in students with a history of shoplifting, especially food items.
    By Robert Woolley @RandomlyBob
  • Goldilocks: Warning: bears!
    By Adam Kissel @AdamKissel
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Warning, portrays a low carb, high protein diet of free range, non-factory farmed meat in a negative light
    By Aaron Sheer (submitted by Facebook)
  • The Book of Job: Isolated cases of fear and trembling
    By Rob Zaretsky in Inside Higher Ed (this satiric op-ed wasn’t part of the contest, but we thought it deserved mention)
  • No Country for Old Men: exclusion of the elderly.
    By Isaac Morrison ‏@Thorrison 
  • Cask of Amontillado: Abject insensitivity to the difficulties involved in brick-laying.
    By Mark Myers @knowtheparallax

The NAS staff also wrote some trigger warnings of our own. We won’t give ourselves any prizes, but here were our ideas:

  • Don Quixote:  scenes of graphic violence against alternative energy sources.
  • Anna Karenina: revolt against patriarchy ends badly.
  • Beowulf: depictions of violence against endangered species.
  • Treasure Island: offensive portrayals of transnational nautical entrepreneurs.
  • Confessions of St. Augustine: narrow-minded treatment of Carthaginian hook-up culture. 

The next time you pick up a classic book, remember these warnings...


Image: "Trigger" by Bo Boswell // CC BY-SA

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