Diary

Yale English Majors Object to Studying English Literature

The collapse of Western Civilization proceeds apace:

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.

It is our understanding that the faculty must vote in order to reconsider the major’s requirements — considering the concerns expressed here and elsewhere by undergraduate students, we believe it would be unethical for any member of the faculty, no matter their stance on these issues, to vote against beginning the reevaluation process. It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices. We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention.

 

I majored in English, so I’ll do my best to accurately translate this pseudo-intellectual tripe into a more easily understood dialect. What the authors of this petition are saying is this:  We want to study English, but we don’t want to study English that originated in England, because it’s offensive to us that there were white people in England who spoke English and wrote poetry in English centuries before we were born. And since we don’t want to study English from England written by English people, you shouldn’t make us. After all, our student loans pay your salaries, and we should therefore be able to dictate what’s important enough to warrant being included in the requirements to earn a degree in English at Yale University. Now let us have our way, because that is what we are used to getting.

Despite my background in English, I’m afraid I can’t accurately translate the bit about “decolonizing” course offerings. It seems to me that reading classic work from the country from which the language originated is the exact opposite of “colonizing”. Of course, I might be missing their meaning completely. Maybe they’re actually talking about the colon, and what they object to is having to digest really big words, because it tends to cause the kind of mental diarrhea present in stupid online petitions.

As wonderful and expressive as the English language can be, I can’t seem to find a word that accurately describes the level of abject stupidity and immaturity associated with this petition. The class at the heart of this Entitlement Mentality Tantrum is “English 125 – Major English Poets from Chaucer to Donne”. Here’s the course description, straight from Yale’s course catalog:

An introduction to the diversity and the continuity of the English literary tradition through close reading of four poets from the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Donne. Emphasis on developing skills of literary interpretation and critical writing.

Yes, you read that correctly. A small but obnoxiously loud gaggle of would-be English majors are objecting to a close study of work by William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, and John Donne. Apparently, these gnat-witted buffoons have such a reading comprehension deficit that they reacted with shock and horror when the poets listed in the course description were actually presented in the classroom. It’s astonishing to me that people who claim to have a desire to study English not only can’t understand what’s written in a course description, they also believe that they can simply ignore the foundations of the language’s literary tradition because it somehow makes them feel bad. These people probably shouldn’t be left unsupervised in a kitchen, let alone be allowed to take courses at Yale. The truly frightening question is whether this kind of stupidity is confined to the English Department, or is it rampant across the campus. Are people like this going to be designing bridges and practicing medicine in the future? If that’s the case, then Donald Trump is just the first in a series of Biblical-Scale Stupidity Plagues that will be unleashed upon us in the years to come.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” A Midsummer Night’s Dream III, ii)