Yale has successfully “decolonized” its English department, and some lucky students are now enrolled in a new course created by the department to ward off claims of departmental racism. Better yet, new standards have been implemented to guarantee a more “diversified” slate of courses.
All of this nonsense was precipitated by a petition from some undergraduates in May 2016 that slammed Yale’s English department for its “whiteness” because the university required English majors to take two courses in “Major English Poets,” including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton and Eliot.
The document read:
A year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of color, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity. The Major English Poets sequences creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of color. When students are made to feel so alienated that they get up and leave the room, or get up and leave the major, something is wrong. … It’s time for the English major to decolonize — not diversify — its course offerings. A 21st century education is a diverse education: we write to you today inspired by student activism across the university, and to make sure that you know that the English department is not immune from the collective call to action.
The series is no longer a graduation requirement for Yale’s English majors. Last spring, Yale’s English faculty voted to “diversify” the curriculum.
Jessica Brantley, the director of the department’s undergraduate studies, lectured The Yale Daily News: “We’ve constructed a curriculum that has inclusion as its goal, embedded in the structures of its requirements, and I’m very excited to implement and develop that curriculum further.”
The Major English Poets sequences still exist, despite the petition’s request that they be eliminated. But the new three required prerequisites allow students to choose from four different courses: Readings in English Poetry 1, Readings in English Poetry 2, Readings in American Literature, and a newly-created course, Readings in Comparative World English Literature. Chaucer and Shakespeare are both studied in English Poetry 1, which means students can take the other three courses and never read either author.
The new Comparative World English course is taught by English professor Stephanie Newell, whose research focuses on “the public sphere in colonial West Africa and issues of gender, sexuality, and power as articulated through popular print cultures.”
H/T The College Fix