Yale English Students Call for Changes to Foundational Courses

Yale English students are calling on their departments to focus on more than just white, mostly wealthy, male writers.

[Students] want the university to abolish the major English poets requirement, and to refocus the course’s pre-1800/1900 requirements “to deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism, and ethnicity”.

The petition says that “a year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of colour, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity”, and that the course “creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of colour”.

The article also mentions that part of the university’s intention in choosing the major authors for its foundational course,

“is to provide all students with a generous introduction to the abiding formal and thematic concerns of the English literary tradition”. The poems the students read, it adds, “take up questions and problems that resonate throughout the whole of English literature: the status of vernacular language, the moral promise and perils of fiction, the relationships between men and women, the nature of heroism, the riches of tradition and the yearning to make something new”.

It’s nice to know that, while relationships between men and women are an important theme that resonates throughout English literature, it doesn’t seem especially pressing to read what women poets have to say about them. Or, say, heroism, tradition, etc, etc.

Full article here.

Also hoping that with initiatives for diversifying Philosophy syllabi, it’s going to become increasingly more difficult to graduate with a Philosophy degree having read almost exclusively the works of well-off white men.

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