Friday, October 23, 2020

A mess of pottage

Followed a couple of links to this:
.... I was an English major at a small liberal arts school in the early 1990s. Most of my teachers were uninterested in critical theory. They loved literature for its own sake and they believed in and taught the canon. How dismaying when I recently learned that my old English department has now rebranded itself the department of “English and Cultural Studies.” The current department head and other professors (most of my old teachers are retired or dead) mumble woke catchphrases and seem to go about their educational task apologetically. The love is gone. They have surrendered to political propaganda.

It makes me angry. Joseph Epstein, who was an English major at the University of Chicago and taught at Northwestern University for thirty years, understands. In his 2008 essay, “A Literary Education: On Being Well-Versed in Literature,” he writes:
“One of the reasons for anger at the theory-ridden English departments of our day is that they sold out the richness of literature for a small number of crude ideas – gender, race, class, and the rest of it – and hence gave up their cultural birthright for a pot of message.”
That was twelve years ago and things are only worse now. ....

I would never recommend any young person become an English major today. Thankfully, my kids have other things in mind for themselves. Apart from a diploma, there’s nothing of value you can gain by studying literature in school that you can’t get on your own as a reader and lover of good books. ....
Literature is for Amateurs - Idlings

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