Forgetfulness as academic policy

Can you believe this?

    Meanwhile, at many another school, the secular fires go on burning.  This week I met a wonderfully engaging and very smart candidate for a position teaching medieval literature at my school.  She told me that she had been informed by her department that they would cease to offer a course in the history of the English language after her departure.  That is not because such a course would be unpopular, but because they believed it should not be taught.  Why not, you ask?  She informed me that in many English departments, the professors believe that study of the older literature, say before 1800, and especially medieval literature, should simply die away.  It should not be taught.  Again, that’s not because Chaucer would be unpopular.  On the contrary, the fear is precisely that students would come to love Chaucer, Spenser, and Milton.  That’s why those authors should die the death.  Shakespeare, of course, avoids the ax, mainly by being conscripted into the legions of the politically correct.      So, as has happened before, it will happen again: if Western culture is to be preserved for a better age, the church will have to do it.  No one else will.

4 Responses

  1. Intellectual history is a form of narcissism. There is no such thing as a “general” or unbiased history. We are interested in the history of ourselves. Why would you waste time on the history of “heretical” ideas? Best ignored, if not suppressed, they are.

    We need to have our own history project, that is all.

  2. I agree with Justin. This seems very similar to the Catholic Monarch of England post. The post-West is not Western. It’s perfectly natural that they should want to downplay potentially misleading facts about the pre-history of their civilization, in much the same way as we Christian Westerners downplayed the religious life of the pagan Greeks and Romans.

    It’s sad to see this happening, as it reminds us that the culture we identify with is dead. Just as does the impossibility of the c of E being led by a Christian King.

  3. The Church isn’t going to do it. I don’t even think they believe cultural preservation is in their portfolio. Google Books is probably a better source of hope.

  4. Depth and quality and seriousness of thought must be suppressed. The beautiful things must be strangled in the back rooms, and tossed out in the dumpster with the dead babies.

    But I like these open declarations of war. The statement, “YOU MUST NOT READ THESE BOOKS,” is probably the best way to get unsuspecting young minds to read them and discover the beautiful secrets — both dark and brilliant — that they contain.

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