Yale may cave to pressure to ban Shakespeare, other ‘harmful’ white English poets

Yale may cave to pressure to ban Shakespeare, other ‘harmful’ white English poets

I might actually have accepted the bait if the complaint were over one specific play by the Bard in which a black man is duped by a crafty white man into killing his wife. But it’s not just “Othello” — which many of the student protesters probably never heard of, much less read — that is fueling the latest demands for change at Yale University.

Their beef, rather, is that Shakespeare is just another dead, white male. In fact, the entire syllabus for the course “Major English Poets” is comprised of dead, white men. (At least most of them are dead.)

Which is why students at the once-prestigious Ivy League school want the course “decolonized.”

According to Heat Street:

Students claimed that they were “so alienated that they have to walk out of the room” because of a preponderance of authors like Shakespeare and Chaucer, who “actively harm” them.

In a petition demanding that minority writers be injected into the curriculum, students left their teachers little room for dissent.

They concluded: “It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices. We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention.”

Adding “minority” voices to a course focusing on major English poets may be a tall order. As Langdon Hammer, chair of the English Department at Yale, wrote on a faculty blog, the course has been offered “in one form or another since around 1920, and for decades it has been a prerequisite course for English majors.”

The course, listed in the undergraduate catalog, as English 125/6, he goes on to note, “introduces students to a particular literary tradition, and the course itself has the status of a tradition.”

Then the good professor does a sudden and surprising about-face and writes:

The thing about literary traditions is, they are always being upended and remade…. So it seems fitting for students and faculty to raise questions about the course and its role in the major.

So which black and/or Hispanic poets that are part of English literary tradition does Hammer envision adding to this course? Just off the top of my head, I can’t think of many major English poets who are members of a minority group. In fact, I can’t think of a single one, most likely because they’re aren’t any.

Which leaves only the option of abolishing the course.

Fox News Channel spoke with one English major who is aghast at the suggestion.

Don’t suppose for a minute that that will change anything.

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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