A new requirement to study authors kept down by 'racism, patriarchy and heteronormativity.'
Starting next fall, English majors at Harvard will be required to take a course in authors “marginalized for historical reasons.” Those “reasons” include “racism, patriarchy and heteronormativity,” the English Department’s chairman, James Simpson, told the Harvard Crimson.
Campus agitation for an identity-based curriculum is by now drearily familiar. But Harvard’s recent mandate goes further, creating a new literary typology: On one side are the marginalized authors; on the other, authors who, by implication, may have benefited from “racism, patriarchy and heteronormativity.” Academia has already furnished unlettered students with excuses aplenty to ignore the greatest works of Western civilization. Now they’ve got another one.
The Harvard English major imposes few substantive demands: a one-semester survey spanning the millennium from 700 to 1700; a semester of poetry; a course that serves as a vehicle for immigration and postcolonial themes; and one semester of Shakespeare. After that, students are on their own, free to fill out their credits with random classes in literature, theory, creative writing, or “related courses” outside the English Department.
In other words, Harvard, like virtually every other college today....