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'Wokery Gone Mad': Culture Wars with Timothy C. Baker, Karen Boyle & Rebecca Buchan  

Saturday 23rd September, 1.30-2.30pm BST
Main Hall King's Pavilion, King's College Campus University of Aberdeen  

Did Professor Timothy Baker REALLY put a trigger warning on Peter Pan as the headlines claim? If so, why on earth would he do that? What's the matter with 'young people today'? Surely, they don't need to be 'coddled' and literature doesn't need to be 'censored' like this? 


Whatever your position or if you just want to hear different views expressed and see these issues debated, scrutinised, clarified and reflected on by some thoughtful and well-informed people - Timothy C. Baker himself, Rebecca Buchan, deputy news editor at The Press & Journal, and University of Strathclyde academic and writer on the 'culture wars', Karen Boyle -  come along to this panel event (with audience Q&A)  and find out more.

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What is the difference between a 'trigger warning' and a 'content warning'? Do we even care - since it's all palpable nonsense? Are journalists using Freedom of Information requests to gather information for headlines to stoke the supposed 'culture wars'? Is this phenomenon even real and if so, what should we be doing about it?


For many students, letting them know about difficult content in what they are about to study is simply a no-brainer: common courtesy, part of caring for their mental well-being and helping provide a constructive framework for discussing literary texts in seminars. For others, perhaps especially those of an older vintage, this seems like pandering to a 'snowflake generation' who need to toughen up and get real: watching Bambi when they were seven never did THEM any harm. In the current divisive climate, is it possible to increase mutual understanding on such topics? Since Universities are at the forefront of the 'wokery gone mad' debate, journalists are involved in keeping it in the public eye, and the 'culture wars' themselves are a socio-political phenomenon which can be studied, UoA's WayWORD festival, with its youth-led ethos and intergenerational audience seems the ideal place for a productive public airing of all things 'woke' and their impact on life as we know it in the 2020s.

Timothy C. Baker is Professor of Scottish and Contemporary Literature at the University of Aberdeen. Originally from Baltimore, he received an AB in Cognitive Science from Vassar College and a PhD in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities from 2007-08 and joined the staff at Aberdeen in 2009. His research and teaching spans a wide range of topics, including environmental humanities, queer theory, and theories of community. He is the author of four academic books, most recently New Forms of Environmental Writing: Gleaning and Fragmentation (2022). His compelling memoir, Reading My Mother Back, was published the same year. 

Karen Boyle is Director of the Centre for Gender & Feminist Studies at the University of Strathclyde and the only Professor of Feminist Media Studies in the UK. Together with Melanie McCarry, she is currently involved in a research project on the use of trigger warnings in the Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, and also a Scottish Universities Insight Institute Project on women of colour in Scotland's news media (with Kate Sang from Heriot Watt and Talat Yaqoob from Pass the Mic). She has previously held positions at Universities of Stirling, Glasgow and Wolverhampton. Her research has focussed on violence, gender and representation, and she is also interested in questions of gender and genre, and female authorship, particularly in cinema. Her publications include Media and Violence: Gendering the Debate (Sage, 2005), as editor, Everyday Pornography (Routledge 2010) and #Me Too: Weinstein and Feminism (Palgrave, 2019). She was Scottish coordinator for the Global Media Monitoring Project and, in 2018, headed a Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded Workshop series on Tackling Gendered Inequalities in Scottish News, which led to the foundation of Gender Equal Media Scotland, a grouping of academics, journalists and activists working towards gender equality in Scottish media.   

Rebecca Buchan is an experienced news and business editor, and now columnist, with a history of working in newspapers and the digital news industry. She studied English at the University of Aberdeen and Journalism at City University of London, where she focussed on investigative journalism. Her views and reportage are widely read in the North-East and beyond, in her role as Aberdeen Press & Journal’s Deputy Head of News & Sport, as well in her previous position as City and Shire Editor. Her keen grasp of current affairs and issues in today’s media world, and her expertise in a wide variety of areas – from news writing, reporting crisis situations, headline writing, and breaking news to business news, travel writing, managing a team of reporters and editing – make her the ideal person to comment on the topics raised by this panel. 

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This event is supported by

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