Author Topic: "Sensitivity readers"  (Read 1056 times)

Fambo Number Mive

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"Sensitivity readers"
« on: April 27, 2018, 04:30:09 PM »
Interesting Guardian article about how books are being sent to "sensitivity readers" to avoid offence. However, should authors try to avoid offence? Obviously they should avoid reinforcing stereotypes or encouraging a twatty agenda, but where is the line drawn?

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/27/vetting-for-stereotypes-meet-publishings-sensitivity-readers

Large Noise

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Re: "Sensitivity readers"
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2018, 05:07:32 PM »
On the one hand, it just seems sensible if you're writing about some minority group you're not part of to have someone from that group check you're not making an arse of it.

On the other, there's something kind of craven about specifically having people check your work and expunge evidence of your little cultural biases. To use an example from the article, if you're a white writer who's worried that you're not equipped to write about your black character getting stopped by the police, it's hard to imagine that you're writing anything worthwhile to begin with.

Re: "Sensitivity readers"
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2018, 01:45:36 PM »
The sort of author willing to hire one of these people is surely least 'in need' of such a service anyway. Presumably all it actually does is reinforce the biases they already hold. My (naive) understanding of modernism is that it repudiates the realist idea of an objective universal point of view - whereas what this seems to suggest is that ultimately there is indeed some authentic figure who holds the truth that we can never know ourselves (a return of Lacan's Subject-Supposed-to-Know?).

Modern fiction preaches to an ever dwindling crowd, no doubt this would hasten its decline if it ever became widespread (a price worth paying for having the 'right' readership?).

Re: "Sensitivity readers"
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2018, 02:16:43 PM »
On the one hand, it just seems sensible if you're writing about some minority group you're not part of to have someone from that group check you're not making an arse of it.


I remember seeing a while back from a group of feminists and people of colour frustrated at how many protagonists are white men posting a banner on twitter saying something along the lines of 'the next time you make a protagonist a white man, why not make them something else?'. But surely in a lot of cases if you're not very careful it's just opening yourself to criticism.

Seems to me that protagonists more often than not reflect the authors so addressing why the industry is a white sausagefest would be the thing to do.

Re: "Sensitivity readers"
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2018, 02:33:11 PM »
Is that true? I understood the publishing industry was mostly female. Most fiction readers are women and they are certainly the majority of authors in many genres.

buttgammon

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Re: "Sensitivity readers"
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2018, 03:00:16 PM »
The sort of author willing to hire one of these people is surely least 'in need' of such a service anyway. Presumably all it actually does is reinforce the biases they already hold. My (naive) understanding of modernism is that it repudiates the realist idea of an objective universal point of view - whereas what this seems to suggest is that ultimately there is indeed some authentic figure who holds the truth that we can never know ourselves (a return of Lacan's Subject-Supposed-to-Know?).

Modern fiction preaches to an ever dwindling crowd, no doubt this would hasten its decline if it ever became widespread (a price worth paying for having the 'right' readership?).

I'd pretty much agree with that idea of modernism (there are so many other facets of it, of course, but that's one of the most vital ones), and I also think with that end to objectivity, there is the implication that every perspective harbours some sort of bias too; postmodernism develops this. I always think of this change as so massive that it's irreversible, but that doesn't stop people trying to pretend otherwise. For some reason, I often think British literature has struggled with this idea more than, say, American, French or Irish literature. There are obvious exceptions, but there is something quite backwards about British literature a lot of the time, and while issues like this obviously aren't specific to the UK, I think they are heightened by the general naivety of so much British literature.

Hobo With A Shit Pun

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Re: "Sensitivity readers"
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2018, 11:03:04 PM »
Ed Bye worried the Cat's Blaxploitation overtones could come across as racist, so asked a young black guy he'd met due to his poetry to have a read. That was Craig Charles. So there's that.