The Death of the Humanities
One of the most crucial duties of universities is to preserve and pass on our cultural heritage, for we can only reach new heights if we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Unfortunately, this conflicts with liberal ideology, which dictates that anything that does not support political correctness as it is currently defined is at best irrelevant and most likely ideologically unclean. Heather Mac Donald does not exaggerate when she writes that the corruption of the English program at UCLA “is part of a momentous shift that bears on our relationship to the past – and to civilization itself”:
Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton – the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements. It replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing.
In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”
Such defenestrations have happened elsewhere, and long before 2011. But the UCLA coup was particularly significant because the school’s English department was one of the last champions of the historically informed study of great literature, uncorrupted by an ideological overlay. Precisely for that reason, it was the most popular English major in the country, enrolling a whopping 1,400 undergraduates.
Instead of studying the great minds of the past, students will be brainwashed with shallow left-wing psychobabble that has no enduring value.
UCLA’s undergraduates can take courses in Women of Color in the U.S.; Women and Gender in the Caribbean; Chicana Feminism; Studies in Queer Literatures and Cultures; and Feminist and Queer Theory.
Imagine anyone a hundred years ago or a hundred years in the future giving a thin dime for any of that crap.
This is the mentality liberal educrats eagerly pander to:
[A] Columbia University undergraduate … had been required by the school’s core curriculum to study Mozart. She happens to be black, but her views are widely shared, to borrow a phrase, “across gender, sexuality, race and class.”
“Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart?” she groused in a discussion of the curriculum reported by David Denby in “Great Books,” his 1997 account of re-enrolling in Columbia’s core curriculum. “My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It’s a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? There are no women, no people of color.” These are not the idiosyncratic thoughts of one disgruntled student; they represent the dominant ideology in the humanities today.
According to political correctness, a savage beating a hollow log with a bone is of equal value to Mozart at his most majestic – or rather of greater value, because Mozart was white and therefore presumably a racist.
Explaining the value of Western Civilization to liberal ideologues would be like explaining to termites why they should not chew their way through the last remaining volume of Shakespeare – except that termites aren’t actively hostile to Shakespeare and everything he represents. Yet we have entrusted the preservation of our civilization to these people.
Griping about Mozart and ignoring Shakespeare will not be the last step. Totalitarian ideologies like political correctness cannot permit anything to exist that challenges them by suggesting alternative viewpoints. Remember the centuries-old Buddhist statues Muslims destroyed in Afghanistan? The same mentality might well be applied to Mozart, Shakespeare, and all the other hated dead white males who bequeathed to us the greatest civilization that ever existed. They might disappear from history, the way disfavored party members were erased from photographs under Stalin.
On a tip from Varla. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.