Trigger warnings, statements alerting readers, listeners, or viewers to the presence of content that might revive distressing memories, have become a flash point in recent discussions about the US academy. Providing a genealogy of the concept and practice in US colleges and universities, this article situates the trigger warning's growing cultural prominence within twined changes in computer-mediated communication and legal understandings of embodied consent. Seen against this backdrop of racialized, gendered struggles over the meanings of free, voluntary action, the trigger warning debate helps illuminate how the normative regimes of the contemporary university reflect the long afterlife of US racial slavery.

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