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English Department at Cornell Votes to Change Name to ‘Department of Literatures In English’

English Department at Cornell Votes to Change Name to ‘Department of Literatures In English’

“The name ‘English Department’ no longer reflects our diverse fields of study”

The reasons given for this change are straight out of the progressive playbook. It’s not about making the department better, it’s about power and control.

BoingBoing reports:

Cornell English Department votes to change name to “Department of Literatures In English”

According to an article on Brittle Paper written by Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ and Carole Boyce Davies — both professors at Cornell University — 75 percent of the the university faculty voted this week in favor of changing the name of the English Department to the “Department of Literatures in English.”

This sounds like a subtle semantic change. But the idea behind it is driven by a larger-scale movement to de-colonize the Western university system. As the authors explain:

The name ‘English Department’ no longer reflects our diverse fields of study – even those still in the margins of the English canon. Our Department now offers courses in Enlightenment, Romanticist, Modernist and Post-Colonial literatures; Caribbean, African, African Diasporic, Native American, African American, Latin American, Chicanx, LatinX, LGBTQ, Indian, Asian diasporic and Asian American.

Literature in translation and many others using literary theories and concepts from all over the world. Within fields traditionally associated with English literature, scholars of both Romanticism and Medieval Studies have keenly recognized that multiple diverse voices and histories were involved in shaping those areas of study. What we want is to have a department that lives up to our lived reality. There is no room for a singular English literature.

We are not asking for other fields to be defunded at the expense of centering diverse scholars and their scholarship, we are simply asking for equality. For how can a department expect to become an incubator of Caribbean, African American, or African scholarship if it has only one scholar working on vast fields? How do we incubate ideas and develop them without clusters of people working in the same field? Our students, in an increasingly shrinking job market made worse by the pandemic need to be well grounded in their fields and their global dimensions.

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Comments

Latin X, LGBT, Caribbean, BUT no Ebonic American ? shame!

With all these separate courses of study and programs, how can they be expected to excel in anything? These programs, on the surface at least, seem to be little more that something created to provide graduates with otherwise useless degrees a place to work indoctrinating other students who will end up with likewise useless degrees.

The Friendly Grizzly | October 10, 2020 at 3:46 pm

Like colored people to people of color. This will change everything.

If I wear hoop earrings I am appropriating culture, if I include Caribbean in my English department, I am just including their contribution to English literature. Sounds about right.

Could one imagine including the Torah or Bible in the Arabic Literature Department?

These new areas are supposed to help their students in the admittedly shrinking English job market? It sounds like they’re trying to increase their share of funding, when in fact all departments will face tightening.

I believe Yale is moving all their humanities departments over into a newly built little quadrangle, leaving the rest of the main campus for STEM I guess. It seems that humanities, having become entropic, are decaying academically.

They had to. They no longer have the respect of the educated public.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | October 10, 2020 at 7:35 pm

Idjits!!!!!!

I recall a meeting years ago where we were trying to make science sexier to prospective students. At one point it was suggested that we become the Department of Ultra Modern Physiology, or DUMP. Each lab would then be a Dumpster. The idea was shelved shortly afterwards.

The Spirit lived on when the Oregon Institute of Technology joined Oregon Health and Sciences University. My Oregon School of Health and Institute of Technology was not given fair consideration, IMHO.

how can a department expect to become an incubator of Caribbean, African American, or African scholarship if it has only one scholar working on vast fields?

Because these are not vast fields. Much like the attempts to claim Ada Lovelace was a programmer or Amelia Earhart a pilot, this is empty puffery. There just aren’t many works in these fields worth studying, nor many people producing them.

“These new areas are supposed to help their students in the admittedly shrinking English job market?”

There is essentially no job market anyway. Even though schools continue to churn out thousands of new PhDs in English (or whatever it’s been renamed as). And at considerable public expense, of course.

But it doesn’t matter anyway, for those who hire in what remains of this job market has made it all too clear they will not select candidates on the basis of scholarship or creative achievement but only on the basis of who they are, as defined by their rank in the interesectional order of “privilege.”

At this point humanities in academia seem beyond redemption; why would anyone sign up (and pay dearly!) to study this crap? Fortunately humanities continue (and will continue) to live outside the academy (as they now must).

The remaining question is whether any scholarship of any kind can survive in American “higher” education, or whether the ongoing Cultural Revolution will simply destroy everything before it other than its own ever-changing, hardline, authoritatarian and punitive political dogmas.

I’m going for a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Circumstances.

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