On today’s episode of “This Just in From the No Longer Hallowed Halls of Academia,” we learn that “faculty members of color” at Cornell University in Ithica, New York, recently introduced a proposal to change the name of the school’s English Department, because “racism.”
Earlier this month, as reported by The Cornell Daily Sun, a “significant majority of the department approved the change and is now awaiting approval from college administration.”
I’ll go out on a limb and bet — how should I put this? — there isn’t a snowball’s chance the name change won’t be approved. Unanimously.
And the department’s new name? Here’s how the Daily Sun put it:
The new proposed name — “the department of literatures in English” — would mark a distinct change in the department’s branding, helping to eliminate what Director of Undergraduate Studies Prof. Kate McCullough, English, said was the “conflation of English as a language and English as a nationality.”
Oh, please. The name of an Ivy League University English department is going to be changed because of the “conflation of English as language and English as a nationality”?
With all “due” respect to Cornell, that is utter nonsense. Does anyone with a modicum of intelligence confuse the name of an English department to mean “a department where we learn about ENGLAND”?
George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley — hardly a conservative — put it into logical perspective.
“Few people would assume that an entire department at Cornell is dedicated to all things about England. The absence at various schools of a “Department of Germany” rather than the Department of German would seem a reasonable clue at to its obvious meaning.”
Few people would assume that an entire department at Cornell is dedicated to all things about England. The absence at various schools of a “Department of Germany” rather than the Department of German would seem a reasonable clue at to its obvious meaning. https://t.co/QtGZTkiRUm
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) October 15, 2020
To Turley’s point, what does an English degree cover, anyway? According to TopUniversities.com:
A degree in English language and literature is designed to get you reading books, analyzing theories, critiquing prose and verse, and taking a more critical look at the signs and words surrounding us every day.
The aim is to get students thinking creatively and analytically about the English language; this differs from other modern language degrees as it is intended for students already proficient in written and spoken English.
An English degree can focus equally on the literature and language sides, while others specialize in one or the other; this will usually be clear from the course title.
Call me stupid. I don’t get it. Or maybe I do. Maybe Fox News contributor Steve Milloy gets it, as well.
“Cornell English department renamed ‘the department of literatures in English.’ I’m for renaming university faculties ‘a$$holes indoctrinating students in Marxism.’
Cornell English department renamed "the department of literatures in English.”
— Steve Milloy (@JunkScience) October 15, 2020
This is just one more example of the national prostration before the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death, right? Of course, it is, per the Daily Sun.
The decision to demand such a change was spurred by this summer’s resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement following George Floyd’s death, according to Prof. Carole Boyce-Davies, English, one of the original proposal writers. As a result, the faculty felt a sense of obligation to react in their own department.
“Faculty around the country — not just faculty of color, but faculty in general — began to look at the institution to see how we can help advance a discourse that challenges structural forms of racism which get reproduced in students and in teaching over and over again,” Boyce-Davies said.
“Other faculty simply recognized that it was time that the department’s title represented what it was really focused on: literature written in English,” The Daily Sun said.
The College Fix thought Cornell hit the target with the name change — the stupid target, that is.
— The College Fix (@CollegeFix) October 14, 2020
Couple of questions: Isn’t that what your English department was already doing? How many students enrolled in the Department of English, only to be crestfallen upon learning that they weren’t going to learn about “English nationality”?
Still beating around the bush, McCullough said “it was also a result of an ongoing shift in literary study in this department — and others across the country — to focus on a broader reach of literature.” Uh-huh.
Department chair Prof. Caroline Levine finally hit the nail on the head.
“The [overwhelming support] was a big help in making us feel like this was an important part of a larger collective action. Sometimes when a department tries to do something like this in isolation, there’s [sic] concerns about whether or not people will recognize and respect it.
“When it comes from the top, there is a sense that this is something that the whole institution should be doing in some part and it makes it easy to rally around it. I think leadership matters.”
And then Levine hit the money shot.
“This isn’t just us doing a symbolic gesture, this is in keeping with the University’s call to have us really rethink our everyday practices around racism.”
And there it is. As “Belarus is Falling to Putin” put it:
“I’m calling it. We are at peak “woke.'”
I’m calling it. We are at peak “woke”. https://t.co/NorZTx9D8V
— Belarus is Falling to Putin (@RubricMarlin) October 15, 2020
Indeed we are. Then again, maybe we’re going to get even “woker.” Or would that be “more woke”? I’m not sure. Perhaps the Cornell University Department of Literatures in English can tell us.