Way back in the 1960’s, I was a top German language student and even won a scholarship to study in Germany which, that year, blew up alongside France in student demonstrations and I was in the middle of all that fun. Well, back in the USA, in 1974, suddenly and with zero warning, virtually all German major studies were ruthlessly eliminated. Bang. My professors were suicidal. I was pissed off but instead of wandering around the university system like a ghost, I quit and went into construction business instead. I build up cities which my neighbors sometimes like to burn down again and we are in another burn down the hood cycle, too. Meanwhile, the vandals who destroyed foreign language majors are now wrecking English majors, too, the vandals this time being radical leftists who want to kill Shakespeare and replace the troublesome prince with ‘ethnic/identity studies’ and other junk.
That is, politics. My ex-husband majored in Political Studies and applied this to the Vietnam War and then…worked on Wall Street in foreign shipping. HAHAHA. We had to survive! Survival is highly important, no? Well, we began this mess but are not responsible for it running onwards since we both ended up being Responsible Citizens and Tax Payers.
So I am looking at recent news stories about how all the Great Writers of the Past are now being eliminated and only 8% of the ‘universities’ (sic) require these courses if one is an ‘English Major’. We can still learn Russian or German at a university, it is just that these are minors, not majors and have courses I would have considered childishly easy back when I was taking courses in the major field.
Last January, we saw this headline: Why Do We Force Students to Read Shakespeare? whines the leftists who run one of the dumbest newspapers on earth, the Huffington Post. They hate hard classes. Shakespeare and Milton together basically recreated and hugely expanded the English language. They gave it many new words and concepts and no one should be allowed to be called ‘English major’ degree holders if they don’t intensively study these two writers.
Four months later, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni ran this warning: Shakespeare not required reading for most literature grads in US | ACTA
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has found that less than 8 percent of the nation’s top universities require English majors to take a course focused on Shakespeare.
The study, “The Unkindest Cut: Shakespeare in Exile 2015,” found that only four of the nation’s 52 highest-ranked universities and colleges by U.S. News & World Report have a Shakespeare requirement.
Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy for the Washington, D.C.-based council and lead author of the study, called the findings “a terrible tragedy.”
“It is with sadness that we view this phenomenon,” he said by phone. “It really does make us grieve for the loss to a whole generation of young people who would look to a college or university for guidance about what is great and what is of the highest priority.”
This process of dumbing down everything is everywhere. No longer are operas written by anyone for any reason. Painting reached this zenith at the exact same time opera did in the 19th century and then that collapsed into the gutter of today. Hideous but very easy to manufactured junk is hailed as great art. Graffiti is art and art has been mugged, raped and shot dead on the subway.
“The Bard, who is the birthright of the English speaking world, has no seat of honor,” the report says. “A degree in English without serious study of Shakespeare is like a major in Greek literature without the serious study of Homer.”
This paragraph infuriates me. There are no ‘Greek MAJORS’ anywhere. Nor German or Russian or whatever. They are all relegated to the minors. In baseball terms, no longer major league players. This is the entire problem. Dumbing down schools began way back in 1974 and has continued forwards.
In the sciences, it has just begun. But in the liberal arts, it has been a bonfire. Here is ‘liberal’ Slate Magazine making fun of anyone who is horrified at the dumbing down going on: UCLA English department eliminates Shakespeare requirement, conservatives freak out. This author wrote Kafka and Wittgenstein because she has a minor in German. She doesn’t know it used to be a major.
And who is going to read her book? Not me. I used to tell Wittengestein jokes 50 years ago. Now, I don’t since few know who that person was. Everyone knows Kafka who wrote in very simple German because he was writing stories for the working class who didn’t want to hear about how they are bugs.
I used to joke about that, too. No more. The working class are bugs to our rulers. And no one seems to care much so far but this is beginning to be restive again, too. Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute go after the Slate writer, calling her (Amy is an adjunct, that is, low pay slave working part time): Nothing More Timeless Than Ignorance | City Journal
Funny she (Slate magazine) should mention the MLA (Modern Language Association).
Ah, the Modern Language Association, a helpless organization. Let me down badly years ago.
Let’s see how much that organization’s concerns support Schuman’s claim that the literature profession remains dedicated to the close study of literature, rather than political play-acting. This year’s conference theme is “Vulnerable Times.” MLA president Marianne Hirsch explained the concept a few months ago: “The Presidential Forum [one among many panels on the topic] will theorize vulnerability’s complex temporalities. Discussing embodiment, poverty, climate, activism, reparation, and the condition of being unequally governed, forum participants will expose key sites of vulnerability and assess possibilities for change.”
I know how to sing the International! Auf deutsch! Can’t remember the words anymore. Rats. Today, we have to learn rap in schools. Rap is all about money and cheap whores, appropriately.
Not much about literature there. It is unclear what “climate” and “reparation” have to do with tracking the emergence of the novelistic narrative voice, say. What is clear is that “forum participants” possess a remarkably inflated notion of their own political efficacy.
Don’t you know that this minor curricular shift (that happened three years ago, since which time nobody, to my knowledge, has perished of area studies) is nothing less than truth-and-beauticide? And in favor of what? According to Mac Donald, who graduated from Yale in 1978 and, to my knowledge, has never taken an undergraduate English class at UCLA, a whole lot of victimization.
The vandalization of culture has been going on for a century. My minor at the university was Music, I not only played the cello, my specialty was medieval music and I played a number of instruments all of which are great at Renn Fairs but little else. Made a few dimes this way.
“Is Classical Music Dead?” A discussion between Andrew Potter and Alexander Shelley – Movies and video games need good music so classical music is still alive there, barely. Zwölftonwerbung – Twelve tone commercial – YouTube
“What happened at UCLA,” she explains, “is part of a momentous shift that bears on our relationship to the past—and to civilization itself.” The new major has fallen prey to the “characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics.” Academics today have no interest in bowing down before Chaucer’s greatness (you know, Chaucer, who never wrote about class). Instead, “the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his or her own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.”
On the other hand, since all these poor students are paying for a lifetime in deep despairing debt to ‘study’ their own reflections in the mirror, guess what? This will cause a future explosion of tremendous force. Already Bernie Sander tapped into this looming despair. Below, a president of a school looting students and turning them into debt slaves by pandering to them when they are too young to see this is a cynical trap:
President Hirsch explains further: “The sessions associated with Vulnerable Times promise to illuminate how the textual, historical, theoretical, and activist work we do as teachers of languages and literatures has been and can be mobilized to address social and political problems, whether urgent and immediate or persistent and recurring. They promise to engage the aesthetic as a space of vulnerability [sic] and as a practice that engages in resistance.”
This is leftist crap trap. Yes, I wrote ‘crap’. Deliberately.
Given students’ abysmal ignorance of a basic literary canon, even an approved multicultural one; given as well students’ vanishing capacity to write a clear sentence, the only “activist work” that should engage “teachers of languages and literatures” should be cramming as much knowledge of great writing as possible into students’ heads. “Address[ing] social and political problems” is a ludicrous diversion.
The inability to write is directly connected to the admissions policies of letting anyone in and collecting the loot. With the top universities, it comes from race policies and other schemes to accept students who are ill-prepared for any university experience in order to be PC. These limp along until they totally fail or are kicked upstairs on the escalator that eases labor and thus, also limits learning.
The MLA statement bulges with similar gems of pretentious politicking. Why bother to mess around with the locus amoenus topos when you can take on “globalization” and “minoritization”? In the meantime, literary knowledge is disappearing. A chaired professor of French and the humanities wrote me in response to my piece: “In 10 years there will be nobody left who can teach the Western canon. Emory [for example] replaced their Renaissance, 18th century, and 19th century specialists with three post-colonialists.” Ph.D. programs have cut drastically back on the foreign languages that they require of their graduate students and on the depth and breadth of the actual literature that students must absorb. Theory courses, on the other hand, abound.
This began half a century ago. German, in particular, was very hard hit by all this. Eliminated, for the most part. Now, it is Shakespeare, creator of modern English.
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