Warning: Vampire novel may contain… vampires

Warning: Vampire novel may contain… vampires: Students at Stirling University are given woke ‘trigger warning’ in case they’re upset by Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot as part of their coursework

  • Stirling University counsels students about ‘graphic violence’ in Salem’s Lot
  • It is latest in line of warnings given to students across Scotland
  • Warnings originated in US and supporters say they help prepare young people for content that could trigger painful memories
  • Last night latest example criticised for treating students like ‘babies in nappies’ 

Students are being given ‘trigger warnings’ advising them they may be upset by a Stephen King horror novel.

Stirling University counsels students studying the ‘art of fiction’ about the ‘graphic violence’ in ‘Salem’s Lot, the 1975 vampire story inspired by Dracula.

It is the latest in a long line of bizarre warnings given to students across the country in case they find the material in their coursework disturbing.

The warnings originated in the US and supporters say they help prepare young people for content that could trigger painful memories.

But last night, the latest ‘ludicrous’ example of the growing trend was criticised for treating students like ‘babies in nappies’.

Tory MSP Russell Findlay said: ‘Someone needs to tell the overly sensitive souls at Stirling University that, as vampires are not real, none of their students will have suffered a vampire attack and therefore do not need this ludicrous trigger warning.


Stirling University counsels students studying the ‘art of fiction’ about the ‘graphic violence’ in ‘Salem’s Lot, the 1975 vampire story inspired by Dracula. Pictured: David Soul in the television version of Salem’s Lot 

‘Such snowflake logic may result in trigger warnings being applied to other depictions of vampires in popular culture including Count Duckula, Count von Count from Sesame Street and Hotel Transylvania.’

The university admitted in a freedom of information response that students taking the art of fiction module are warned about ‘graphic violence… in Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot’, his second published novel.

They are also warned about ‘instances of homophobic and racially insensitive language’ in the novel, later turned into a television mini-series starring David Soul and James Mason. It tells the story of a novelist and a young horror fan attempting to save a small New England town called Jerusalem’s Lot, shortened to ‘Salem’s Lot, which has been invaded by vampires.

King has described the novel as his favourite, saying he has a ‘special cold spot in his heart for it’.

Film and media studies courses at Stirling, including a module on ‘screening science fiction’, also have trigger warnings. They tell students that some of the films and programmes deal with ‘difficult issues’ including ’emotional trauma’.

Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education said: ‘It is demeaning and insulting to students to be ‘protected’ in this way.

‘The university needs to show them more respect and stop treating them as babies in nappies. The only trigger warning needed is one that warns young people about the dangers of attending a glorified nursery named Stirling University.’

Stephen King (pictured) has described the novel as his favourite, saying he has a ‘special cold spot in his heart for it’

A Stirling University spokesman said: ‘The university promotes free speech and academic freedom, and encourages students to engage critically with course materials and content. However, we recognise that some content can evoke reactions in individuals and by sharing information about the nature of content, we create an inclusive learning environment.’

In 2019, the Mail revealed that students at Glasgow University had been given trigger warnings about potentially upsetting scenes in classic fairytales.

Lecturers admitted students were cautioned about ‘violent material’ contained in the famous children’s stories by the Brothers Grimm. Their tales include Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood. The lecturer in charge said: ‘When I teach my Grimms’ Fairytales class, I always say some of the material includes child abuse, incest and other violent material.

‘As we do psychological readings of the tales, this can be important to acknowledge.’

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