Open BooksIntroducing the literary privilege disclaimer.

Open BooksIntroducing the literary privilege disclaimer.

  • Words Kabelo Sandile Motsoeneng
  • Photograph Lauren Bamford

Recently, the literary world has embraced the “literary privilege disclaimer.” The concept, first detailed by Emma Specter in Vogue, consists of a few lines—or a few pages—in which a writer explains that they understand their privilege and power in society and how it translates to their work.1 Ultimately, the literary privilege disclaimer is an author’s shield against the public’s ethical concerns about what it means to write outside of one’s experience and who gets to be celebrated for such an attempt. It inoculates the writer from criticism if their identity contradicts the experiences documented in their work.

The inclusion of the disclaimer does not change the content but it shapes how the reader might receive the work. It trains the reader to focus their gaze and atte...

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