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Howard University Dissolving Its Classics Department

Howard University Dissolving Its Classics Department

“as part of its prioritization efforts”

This is a horrible idea. College is the one place where students are most likely to be exposed to the Classics.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Howard Plans to Close Classics Department

Howard University plans to dissolve its classics department, the only classics department at a historically Black college or university in the country, according to the Society for Classical Studies.

The society’s Board of Directors said in an April 16 statement that it had recently received word from the department that Howard decided to close it “as part of its prioritization efforts.”

The statement quotes a message the society received from the department, which reported that Howard “is currently negotiating with the faculty of Classics and with other units in the College as to how they might best reposition and repurpose our programs and personnel. These discussions have been cordial, and the faculty remains hopeful that the department can be kept intact at some level, with its faculty and programs still in place.”

Here’s the statement from Howard:

“Howard University has decided to close the Department of Classics as part of its prioritization efforts and is currently negotiating with the faculty of Classics and with other units in the College as to how they might best reposition and repurpose our programs and personnel. These discussions have been cordial, and the faculty remains hopeful that the department can be kept intact at some level, with its faculty and programs still in place.”

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Comments

Reverse racism, can’t read Shakespeare, he was a white racist. Can’t read the Illiad, he was white. Can’t read Virgil or Cato, they were white al well. Can’t read 1984 or Fahrenheit they were white too. Saw “Brooklyn” by Spike Lee; now that’s a classic.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to dr. frank. | April 22, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Don’t leave out the classic beauty of Cornell West’s rap lyrics.

    tbonesays in reply to dr. frank. | April 23, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    It doesn’t look like Howard thought that classics were racist. It may be a more cut and dry issue that students were not majoring in Classics because it does not lead to employment.

While I don’t know what they do at Howard, Classics departments usually teach Greek and Latin languages and literature (in the original languages), not Shakespeare or Bradbury. We used to need more folks skilled in these to teach high-school Latin or to staff Classics departments in other universities. But those are dying out everywhere.

While certainly I agree that reading Virgil, Hesiod, Plato and Cicero in the original is a great way to go (I got that in my classics education), the vast majority of us get them through translation. We do need some Classics scholars to keep that up, we just don’t need as many as we used to. I’d say this is a sensible economic decision on the part of the College.

To the extent it’s about the “war on the West” narrative, it’s about the general decline of Classical (i.e., Greek and Latin) education that’s happening everywhere.

That said, it makes me sad. Check out Cornell West’s essay criticizing this move in the Washington Post.

    healthguyfsu in reply to John M. | April 23, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    Howard is the exact kind of place where we do need Classics dept. The people that go through Howard have not been adequately versed in these areas of intellectual pursuit.

I’m sure the “white” classics will be promptly replaced with classics from Wakanda and all the other cultures where they wuz kangs.

“We do need some Classics scholars to keep that up, we just don’t need as many as we used to. ”

Yep, we already have more than enough Black Classics scholars to meet the need, Funny, I can’t name a single one, though.

You think they care about future employment when they major in Africans or gender studies?

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