“It takes a deeply impoverished imagination to read Shakespeare and regard him simply as an agent of the patriarchy.”
“In a petition to the English department, Yale undergraduates declare that a required two-semester seminar on Major English Poets is a danger to their well-being. Never mind that the offending poets – Shakespeare, Chaucer, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, et al. – are the foundational writers in the English language. It’s as if chemistry students objected to learning the periodic table or math students rose up against the teaching of differential calculus.”
A cogent comparison. These are the very authors and poets whose works have formed the English language, and shaped Anglophone Western culture in ways too numerous to count. These pusillanimous petitioners – who owe what little ability to express themselves coherently which they may possess to the masters of literary expression they would, ironically, dispossess – may as well complain that the very oxygen in the air they breathe burns their lungs.
“The petition whines that “a year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of color, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity.”
It does, eh? Strange that it is only since the kulturkampf of the late 1960s that this alleged “harm” has existed.
Has it occurred to any of these arrogant, ignorant, sniveling idiots that America’s greatest years occurred during a time when the great works of the Western Canon wrought by the towering creative intellects now dismissed as mere “dead white males” were the only works – save for a few from other cultures that had similarly stood the test of time, and achieved like stature – that were seriously studied?
And that the beginning of America’s loss of motivation, drive, and standing in the world (mirrored, sadly, by the rest of the West) can be dated with some precision to the time period, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the kind of tripe represented by this petition first started to gain traction?
And yes, I know that correlation does not equal causation. But I also know that if there’s enough smoke, there’s bound to be some fire somewhere. And I know, further, that a tree cut off from its roots is bound to wither and die; the same can be said of a culture or society. Absent some sort of drastic and successful intervention, Western culture is dying; this petition is both another ax-blow to the roots, and also symptomatic of its death-throes.
As the article further notes,
“The petition’s implicit contention is that the major poets are too circumscribed by their race and gender to speak to today’s socially aware students, when, in point of fact, it is the students who are too blinkered by race and gender to marvel at great works of art.”
Amen. I would like to think that Yale – that highly esteemed Ivy League institution of higher learning – would laugh them out of the Dean’s office, if not expel them from its ranks. But I’m not going to hold my breath. I fear that Yale’s faculty, like most contemporary academics, having largely come of age during or after the aforementioned 1960s and 70s, is already too deeply in the thrall of the same disease as that infecting the petitioners. God help us!