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Yale Students Demand English Department Drop White Male Poets

Yale Students Demand English Department Drop White Male Poets

“It’s time for the English major to decolonize.”

Social justice warriors at Yale are angry that the study of English involves reading the work of old white men. In a move that defies history and logic, they have launched a petition which makes specific demands on Yale’s English Department to put an end to this travesty.

Robby Soave writes at Reason:

Yale Students Tell English Profs to Stop Teaching English: Too Many White Male Poets

Some Yale University students are demanding changes to the English Department curriculum: specifically, they don’t think it should feature so many English poets who were straight, white, wealthy, and male.

“It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices,” the students wrote in a petition to the faculty. “We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention.”

The “Major English Poets” sequence, a mandatory two-course commitment for English majors, is particularly problematic, according to the students. These classes cover Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, and T.S. Eliot. It’s not the most diverse line up, to be sure, but it’s the one that best reflects history the way it actually happened. Inarguably, these are the most influential poets in the English language.

But students think this sequence “creates a culture that is hostile to students of color.”

The student petition itself is particularly entertaining. Here’s the text in full:

Petition to the Yale English Department Faculty

We, undergraduate students in the Yale English Department, write to urge the faculty to reevaluate the undergraduate curriculum. We ask the department to reconsider the current core requirements and the introductory courses for the major.

In particular, we oppose the continued existence of the Major English Poets sequence as the primary prerequisite for further study. It is unacceptable that a Yale student considering studying English literature might read only white male authors. 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. The English department loses out when talented students engaged in literary and cultural analysis are driven away from the major. Students who continue on after taking the introductory sequence are ill-prepared to take higher-level courses relating to race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, ability, or even to engage with critical theory or secondary scholarship. We ask that Major English Poets be abolished, and that the pre-1800/1900 requirements be refocused to deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism, and ethnicity.

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.

They have spoken.

You have to marvel at the arrogance and smug overconfidence of that closing.

According to their website, Yale’s English Department offers literature courses that focus on women writers, African American writers, Asian writers, and other varieties.

What’s next? Should science classes stop teaching Einstein and Newton?

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.


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“It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices,” the students wrote in a petition to the faculty.


Then why bother enrolling as a ‘student?’ Drop out now and start your teaching career on a stret corner.


Why were the serfs kept ignorant? Why was it a crime to educate a slave?

The SJWs have studied history and have learned that totalitarians can more easily rule over those ignorant of history.

Orwell’s 1984 really is being used as a guidebook.

Any bets on what the ruling class at Yale will do?

“The “Major English Poets” sequence, a mandatory two-course commitment for English majors, …cover Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, and T.S. Eliot.”

Excellent company to keep along with one of my favorites, Anton Chekov!

But of course these writers, poets and playwright are not hip, not Trump-Snooki level cool.

The age of regurgitated touchy-feely emo is upon us.

And Yale, behold “The Charge of the Not-So-Bright Brigade.”

“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.”

Indeed. They have been taught that it’s OK for them to be intolerant, hypersensitive bigots of the first order, and all it will get them is more pow-wah when they express that.

    tobiathan in reply to Ragspierre. | June 3, 2016 at 7:27 pm


    The Ragspierre of old!

    It is truly a joy to see your true mind at work and to see the very unique style with which you bring your thoughts to life.

    Salute, mon frere.

nordic_prince | June 3, 2016 at 11:13 am

“When students are made to feel so alienated…”

I had no idea Yale employed thugs whose job it is to alienate students. Silly me, I thought a person’s reaction to insult, perceived or otherwise, was entirely within his control.

Grow up, pansies. If you feel “alienated,” it’s because you choose to. You don’t have to be a “victim” unless you really want to.

On the other hand you could shut up, and perhaps you would actual learn something. There’s a reason why people have two ears but only one mouth. Of course, learning can be hard work, so it’s understandable why you have an aversion towards it ~

Sure, let’s replace these poets with rap and hip-hop “artists“. The barbarians truly are at the gate.

I took this same English poetry course myself nearly 50 years ago. It was (properly) very demanding. It is analogous to the organic chemistry requirement for those aspiring to attend medical school. If one doesn’t care enough to work hard in a rigorous preliminary course, one probably does not belong in the field.

This is only the latest of a growing string of embarrassments at my alma mater, and, for that matter, at other elite universities. It is almost as if the admissions departments of these institutions have formed a conspiracy to admit the unqualified…wait, they have and it is called “diversity, inclusion, and affirmative action” and Bingo! Mismatch.

legacyrepublican | June 3, 2016 at 11:29 am

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” — John Donne

Of course these idiots don’t want to hear this message.

mumzieistired | June 3, 2016 at 11:33 am

The English Department faculty should tell these whiners to pick another major.

Or better yet, pick another school to whine at.

“It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices”

This isn’t a late April Fool thing?

If not, perhaps Yale should be responsive … and add Kipling to the lineup. Of course he’s dead and white, but if the little buggers think they’re suffering now, that’ll give them a good whack up side the head.

Since they know so much already, why are they in school anyway? Get a Xerox copier and hand out diplomas with the application material. “A.A” — After arrival granting of diploma… “B.A.”- Before Arrival granting of diploma…. “M.A.” Missed Arrival and still got diploma… “PhD” Probably Had Doubts about college and still got diploma.

These universities are reaping what they sow. Here is a bunch of rich, spoiled kids who have spent their entire lives (all 18 years or so) getting everything and anything they want. God forbid someone should tell them no! But somehow they are now going to dictate to these institutions, who have been around for hundreds of years, how and what they should be taught. Administration better stand tall and tell them thank you for your suggestions, but leave the teaching to us!

filiusdextris | June 3, 2016 at 1:08 pm

Who’s the racist? Too obvious to answer.

These students have the right idea.

While we’re getting rid of the works of white men, the students should also demand getting rid of all printing presses, printed books, newspapers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, computers, ipads, ebooks, computer printers, etc. Technology in general.

Let’s simply return to oral traditions passed around the campfire ala Homer (but he was a white male also…. sigh).

Then, too, English itself is an invention of whites. We could also argue about whether the inventors of writing and the alphabet were white (western Asian and ancient Egyption).

Perhaps all this information could be transfered to hula dances (at least that was a non-white invention) and the Yale English department could be made into a dancing department. Of course, one needs a prodigious memory and lots of hard work to retain much information.

Wait, wait, it wouldn’t surprise me if you can already get a major in Hula dance theory at Yale :-). The job market demand for such a major must he gigantic.

The sad thing is that Yale will probably accede to all of the demands. And no more will Elis be allowed to dress as John Donne on Halloween.

buckeyeminuteman | June 3, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Um…if you want to study poetry in Swahili or Japanese I’m sure there’s a class for that. If you want to study English poetry you’re going to get white men as English people are white. I would have thought you had grasped that point by having a high school diploma. It appears they’re handing those things out to anybody these days.

These kids are literature fluid, as in Kool-Aid drinkers from video streams.

OMG! These kids are voters!

Hey kids, if you want to write but just cannot handle the big words and imagery of the great writers the English Department will expose you to at Yale, major in a field designed for imbeciles: journalism.

If the older, white men do better, so be it. Simply try to best them. But don’t let these putzes ruin great institutions.

And if anyone thinks this is any student’s idea, there’s a bridge I wanna sell you.

    tobiathan in reply to | June 3, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Excellent point- these demands by students that “dead white men” be removed from the English majors course is too insipidly insane to be merely a wistful act of rebellion.

    The fact that English is the predominant language of world business, science, aviation etc. etc. seems beyond these inchoate ignorami.

    Someone, likely over 60 and well-versed in traitor Alinsky-ite methods, has handed down not only the demands but the very seed of the idea along with a fat envelope full of a cash “endowment” to see this foolishness come to light.

    One thing that these messages of idiocracy do keep bringing to my mind: maybe it IS time to tear down old, stale, counter-productive schools and replace them with more modern, more well-thought-out, more-contemporary and agile facilities able to filter the true genius away from the sub-genuii in order to maximize each individual’s ability to grow intellectually.

legacyrepublican | June 3, 2016 at 4:07 pm

It just occurred to me that this is cultural appropriation at its worst.

The English language was developed by white men and women.

And now, these students wish to cut off the roots of the development of the English language and say its cultural roots matters not.

#English Roots Matter!

I’m beginning to worry about the Yale lock on my outbuilding. Will she remain locked until I slide my key into her and give it a twist?

“It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices,” the students wrote in a petition to the faculty. “We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention

Isn’t it odd….aren’t these silly little twerps the ones who are supposed to be listening, paying attention, and LEARNING?

They need to decide, these English majors, if they have spoken or are speaking. Which is it? Clearly, they aren’t proofreading their petition.

Stupidity has metastasized within the halls of “academia”.

David R. Graham | June 5, 2016 at 12:24 am

The agitators — they are not students, clearly — are right. They pay to attend Yale. They are the customer. The customer is always right.

Easy way around that: pay the students to attend Yale. Now the faculty is the customer. And always right.

Model at the national service academies.

This is the ENGLISH department, we’re talking about, right? Where they study, you know, white male poets amongst other things?

Sir Walter Scott’s reaction:

High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.