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Barnard English Department Rejects Student Demands for Less ‘Eurocentric’ Literature

Barnard English Department Rejects Student Demands for Less ‘Eurocentric’ Literature

“Petition for Diversifying the Barnard English Major”

No one is stopping these students from reading the authors they want but that’s not what this is really about.

Campus Reform reports:

Barnard rejects demand for less ‘Eurocentric’ literature

The Barnard College English Department has refused to bow to hundreds of activists who are demanding that it drop its focus on “Eurocentric” literature.

Launched in April, the “Petition for Diversifying the Barnard English Major” urges the department to implement numerous reforms, including a requirement to have “at least half of the syllabus composed of marginalized voices” and a demand to “hire more teachers of color.”

“This is a call for diversity and inclusion within the English major. Barnard’s English major requirements give total focus to overwhelmingly white (not to mention male) authors,” the petition complains, asserting that “This is due mostly to the four pre-1900s requirements, a lack of diverse courses overall, lack of faculty of color, and focus on the Western Canon as the standard for literary excellence.”

The petition goes on to argue that “by focusing on Eurocentric literature, Barnard’s English major perpetuates a vicious, exclusionary cycle,” alleging that the college only values the culture of “white Europeans.”

Despite the fact that the April petition has received more than 300 signatures, a Barnard spokeswoman told Campus Reform on Monday that the department has no plans to accede to the activists’ demands.

“Barnard’s English curriculum teaches Anglophone literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present, and requires our students to engage with a range of texts from literary history,” the spokeswoman said.


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Walker Evans | June 7, 2018 at 2:37 pm

Another failure of our primary education system. Clearly these soi disant “students” can’t read well enough to comprehend what an English department is supposed to teach!

I took ONE class — 3 credits– in African English-language literature in college. All of the other classes offered by the English Lit Dept were about American, Canadian, Irish, Scottish, Welch or English authors/poets/playwrights. I don’t recall any Ozzies or Kiwis.

I do not know what Barnard offers in its English classes. But I suspect that these students are idiots, who don’t know the meaning of English literature.

ugottabekiddinme | June 7, 2018 at 9:45 pm

As an English major with my BA from an Ivy League uni in 1969 (before the ‘Movement’ attempted to place non-English-speaking-world-authors in the required English curriculum), I say:

“Huzzah! Barnard! Huzzah!”

Juba Doobai! | June 8, 2018 at 2:02 pm

No one is stopping these students from reading the authors they want ….

As an English major, I built an impressive library of African, Caribbean, black American literature and critical sources, in addition to the required reading.

What the complainers will find is that there are common threads amongst all literatures, and one can employ insights from one to one’s analysis of another. It’s not a zero sum game because we are all human and have common experiences