Trigger Warnings, Open-Access, and my First Traditional Academic Publication

Over the weekend I started seeing a bunch of stuff about Trigger Warnings popup in the twitter verse. Apparently there was a piece in the New York Times about the literary Canon making students squirm. So students should be warned with Trigger Warnings, so they know ahead of time that they might be made uncomfortable. That makes me wonder what happens when someone like me walks into a classroom as a professor. I think maybe I should get a shirt that says “trigger warning” because me being a black female in the role of professor (even though technically I am an instructor, the students insist on calling me professor instead of Jade) means that I make some students in the southern university where I teach uncomfortable. Just by existing. Trigger warnings work on by creating an aesthetic of oppression. But this is something that I think has a bigger longer history… which is the subject of my first official peer-reviewed academic publication.

The Catholic schoolgirl & the wet nurse: On the ecology of oppression, trauma and crisis
Jade E. Davis


This paper explores the idea of facing oppression by exploring how two photographs, one of a Catholic schoolgirl and one of a wet nurse were received as they made their way through social media. In addition, the paper looks at a blog post that was made about photographs from a similar time period as the photos. By exploring how the photos were received through Fanon, visual studies, and psychoanalytic theory, the paper proposes a new way to view these photographs, outside of the narratives of Oppression and Trauma. Instead, by understanding the re-inscription of the dominant narratives as an ongoing crisis, we allow for a reparative reading of this type of imagery that complicates our relationship with the past.

You can read the article here:

I have openly had a hard time with the idea of academic publishing being behind paywalls. The open web is under attack, but I still believe that information should be freely available and up for debate. My understanding is most academic articles are read by three people. I want those three people that will find use in what I wrote to be able to use it freely. I am extremely happy that my first CV line item that will read as not totally alt-academic-academic (which is what most of my CV is), is available for anyone and everyone to read, take from, discuss, critique, etc. And, it is about trigger warnings, and how we use them to oppress certain bodies.

So, big thank you to Decolonization for being a part of my academic life and choosing to publish my article. I’m grateful to be in such a wonderful volume that is tackling decolonial aesthetics.

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