To Be Or Not To Be Educated In Shakespeare: Leftist Want None Of The Bard

Olivier’s Hamlet film (1948): To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy – YouTube

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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14 Comments

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14 responses to “To Be Or Not To Be Educated In Shakespeare: Leftist Want None Of The Bard

  1. Robert pyle

    Shakespeare and Milton together basically recreated and hugely expanded the English language.
    Don’t forget Chaucer, whose birthday is today.

  2. e sutton

    The beauty of Shakespeare´s writing is that it illuminates the human condition. Who can forget the image seared into their brain when Lady Macbeth was frantically trying to cleanse the blood from herself, ¨Out, wretched spot!¨ when it was all in her head? Or the deceit and cunning found in Othello? We are witnessing the demise of Western civilization.

    A college degree will soon mean absolutely nothing. I hope the smug expression these new ¨graduates¨ is worth going into tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt. Most of them are not only able to write a coherent sentence, but they can not speak properly either. I suppose soon we will go back to grunting at each other.

  3. e sutton

    @#1

    Happy Birthday, Geoffrey Chaucer! Canterbury Tales – an all time favorite, but no light stuff to study!

  4. Melponeme_k

    The fall of Shakespeare is due to no one wanting to parse through the old fashioned language. Today’s young person just hears arcane phrases and he/she complains that is only about white people. Meanwhile Shakespeare was a writer for the masses not for the elite. If young people just extended themselves for just a bit, they would hear some of the best dirty jokes ever written.

    The base of this whole problem is that the Elite want culture only for themselves. They don’t want to share it. The fact that we have had extensive opportunities for free education really burned their britches for years. Well, now they can have it all in just a few short years.

    Back to the days of Jude the Obscure for the rest of us.

  5. e sutton

    @#4

    True enough, Mel. It all began with the ¨it´s not cool to be smart.¨ meme with the black folk saying that studying and speaking properly were signs of ¨acting white¨. I sometimes cringe when I post here because I do not always proof read what I write and then, bang! I´ve written something that makes me look a bit moronic (as if!)🙂

    But seriously, I think you have a point. Classic literature and an appreciation for classical music is something that I learned to appreciate through both of my parents. My dad and mom listened to the Peter and the wolf operas as well as recordings of Leonard Bernstein. Dad would ¨conduct¨ the orchestra while my sister would dance around the room pretending to be a prima ballerina. My mom was so good at reading me bedtime stories that I would BEG her to repeat the SAME stories until she refused, insisting that we begin a NEW fairytale, which would quickly become my new favorite.

    To be well read, learned, and speaking correctly was a sign that one was cultured and civilized. We now have a generation plus of young people who fancy themselves as ¨artists¨ when they chant out rhymes about selling and doing drugs while raping and degrading women. Ahhhh, progress!

  6. Christian W

    OT:

    Bernie Sanders has officially endorsed Killary Clinton (and Sanders pretended to be a man of principles). What a fraud. The US establishment is specialized in rigging elections.

    http://sputniknews.com/analysis/20160713/1042863196/sanders-loyal-establishment-clinton.html?utm_source=https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2Fa1y8hWkT6H&utm_medium=short_url&utm_content=bEwt&utm_campaign=URL_shortening

  7. emsnews

    Sanders arm was twisted hard and then offered bribes. What he was bribed is now the question. It has to be something big.

  8. Petruchio

    What this gutting of Western language studies was and is really is an all out assault on Western Culture and Traditions. The ‘leftists’ as some call them can not discredit Western Cultures, so they have to “ignore” them–by eliminating their study altogether. Please not that even before the elimination of such things as German Studies, Classical Studies were eliminated. I wonder how many College Grads of today know ANYTHING about the Peloponnesian War? Or about Plato. Socrates, and the list could go on. It is really despicable what these Politically Correct FASCISTS have done.

  9. emsnews

    The very first Mahler symphony I heard was an old 78 record (made before 1960, of course) and I fell in love with it. I was only 10 years old.

    By the time I was 16, I had all his music. Every last piece. From Angel Records Club purchases over time using babysitting money.

    As the Vietnam War took off, as WWIII constantly loomed, the darker parts of Mahler which predicted the horrors of WWI with military marches punctuated by ecstatic despair, broke my heart and taught me how to deal with some very dark things looming on my own horizon (death, suicides, murder, war crimes happening literally around me)

    Gave me a premature dark view of history! All this sort of thing is lost now, the audiences for this are dwindling. When I was young, Bernstein fired us all up to do better, to learn difficult music and to strive harder…all falling apart again. Sad, so sad.

    I utterly adored Bernstein.

  10. Lou

    Sanders was – is money hungry. no surprise.

  11. ziff

    Technology is the new imaginative space , people never think of pictorial space as important but its where new things used to happen..

  12. Petruchio

    @#6 Christian W: It’s like what Ralph Nader said: Sanders sliced his own political throat when he said early on that he would support the Democratic Party’s nominee, whoever it was. Witholding his supporters support for Clinton was the only leverage Sanders had; Sanders gave that up right off the bat. Big mistake. Personally, I think Sanders was bribed with something (maybe not money) to endorse Mrs. Clinton. I guess I will have to vote Trump. Although as a former brainwashed Republican, the thought of ACTUALLY voting for a Republican EVER AGAIN is enough to make me want to vomit. Maybe I will vote for Jill Stein.

  13. emsnews

    I doubt Hillary offered a something that would benefit the voters of Vermont. Israel, yes. Vermont, nein.

  14. ziff

    ”’ 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. ””’

    So how would you fix this ? have a million of old mastery style paintings
    being produced [its just a learned skill] . And of what ? modern life hidden in dark shadows , or maybe photorealism would do ? Quaint olde villages or dark portraits ONLY ! ,,,,, Kinkades ?

    https://thomaskinkade.com/

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