[Ed. – Gee. It’s like they’re trying to make people stupid.]
A new study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) reveals, depressingly, that only four of the nation’s top colleges and universities require a Shakespeare course, even for English majors. ACTA, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C., that encourages college trustees to act on behalf of academic freedom and excellence, surveyed U.S. News and World Report’s top 25 national universities and top 25 liberal-arts colleges. Of the former, only Harvard (the lone Ivy League institution to make the cut) and the University of California–Los Angeles require English majors to study Shakespeare. Of the latter, only Wellesley College and the United States Naval Academy do.
What today’s English departments do offer is the expected cocktail of popular culture and political correctness. Princeton’s “Literature, Food, and the American Racial Diet,” for example. Or “Punk Culture: The Aesthetics and Politics of Refusal” at Cornell, or “The Politics of Hip Hop” at Emory.
Though this be madness, there is of course a method to it, to paraphrase Polonius. Part of the motivation is economic, as departments pander to their customers with courses on children’s literature, cinema, television, Harry Potter, and vampires. Another part is political, involving academia’s devaluing of Western classics and its hostility to anything white, male, or old, adjectives that supposedly mean irrelevant and ethnocentric.