Is Yale Really Elite If Its English Majors Never Read Shakespeare?

Is Yale Really Elite If Its English Majors Never Read Shakespeare?

Yale's English department decided it will no longer require English majors to study literary luminaries such as William Shakespeare and John Donne. 
Joy Pullmann
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For years, U.S. News and World Report‘s influential college rankings have kept Yale University at the top, often reaching no. 1. For 2018, it’s tied for third. U.S. News claims its top ranking factor is academic excellence, but recent news out of Yale questions that ranking’s legitimacy. A year and a half after students charged it’s racist to require them to study influential British authors because those authors happen to be white, Yale’s English department decided it will no longer require English majors study literary luminaries such as William Shakespeare and John Donne.

Last year, some 160 Yale students signed a petition demanding such curricula changes, based entirely on the color of the authors’ skin and content of their gonads rather than the quality of their literary works.

“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,” students wrote in the petition. “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.”

Yes, something is definitely wrong when students are so racist that they will not listen to the ideas of someone who had the misfortune to be born with a currently non-politically favored skin color. It’s also prima facie preposterous to assert that someone can be considered well-educated if he has actively shunned reading Shakespeare. Instead of rebuking their students for this shocking display of ignorance, however, Yale administrators and faculty encouraged it and complied with their demands.

Last year, students at Stanford shot down peers who petitioned to have a Western history survey class reinstated as a basic requirement. The petitioning students cited a Stanford law professor who reported his so-called “best students in the country” are basically know-nothings:

I have taught law students for more than thirty years. In recent years I have noticed that many students have little or no familiarity with the political, intellectual and cultural history that shaped the American legal tradition. I’ve encountered students who have never heard of Hobbes and Locke, do not know the causes of the American Revolution, are unfamiliar with the Lincoln-Douglas debates, haven’t a clue about Progressivism or the New Deal, don’t know what separates Protestants and Catholics, and have only the vaguest sense what race relations were like before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Recently, Camille Paglia, no conservative nor traditionalist, reported the same about her students at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, noting that this kind of brain rot has trickled down into K-12 schools courtesy of teachers’ university mal-educations:

What has happened is these young people now getting to college have no sense of history of any kind. No sense of history. No world geography. No sense of the violence and the barbarities of history. So, they think that the whole world has always been like this, a kind of nice, comfortable world where you can go to the store and get orange juice and milk, and you can turn on the water and the hot water comes out. They have no sense whatever of destruction, of the great civilizations that rose and fell, and so on, and how arrogant people get when they’re in a comfortable civilization, etc. So they now are being taught to look around them to see defects in America – which is the freest country in the history of the world – and to feel that somehow America is the source of all evil in the universe, and it’s because they’ve never been exposed to the actual evil of the history of humanity. They know nothing!

After chanting students shut down the core humanities class of Reed College assistant professor Lucia Martinez Valdivia this fall because it’s “too white, too male and too Eurocentric,” Martinez Valdivia wrote in a blog post, “I am scared to teach courses on race, gender or sexuality or even texts that bring these issues up in any way…I’m at a loss as to how to begin to address it, especially since many of these students don’t believe in historicity or objective facts (they denounce the latter as being a tool of the white cisheteropatriarchy)” (emphasis added). She finds studying white, heterosexual males refreshing because she’s “female, mixed race, American and Peruvian, gay, atheist and relatively young. I study poetry that is basically the opposite of me: male, white, British, straight, God-fearing, 500 years old. And I love it.”

The fact that a core curriculum of any real substance no longer exists at the United States’ so-called prestige universities, and is neither desired by many so-called elite students nor professors, suggests it’s time we stop venerating and sending our kids and tax dollars to these institutions whose main function seems to be rotting students’ brains and American society from its leadership down. It’s no wonder that Pew Research found a remarkable loss in Republican confidence in U.S. higher education: It ain’t higher, and it ain’t education.

Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist and author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," out from Encounter Books this spring. Get it on Amazon.

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