November 19, 2002

WHY is it ALWAYS the

WHY is it ALWAYS the English Professors?

For unparallelled stupidity, knee-jerk uber-liberal spew and all around myopic boorishness, you can always count on the English Department. Couple of examples:

Via Campus Nonsense, a story about a visit by Dinesh D'Sousa: The reaction of one faculty member, however, was intolerable. English professor Kari Winter spent an entire class period 'discussing' Dinesh D'Souza and the College Republicans. She distributed a flyer that pulled quotes out of context and prefaced them with labels such as 'White Supremacy = Meritocracy.' Affixed to a wall, this flyer constituted borderline slander; distributed to a class, it was far worse. As if this was not enough, Dr. Winter accused the College Republicans of harboring 'racist tendencies.'

This professor is no stranger to controversy. Last semester, she interrupted a private conversation between a professor and a student to express her wish that the political science faculty 'stop training Nazis.' To toss this repulsive epithet at one of UVM's finest departments is to insult each and every faculty member and student. Likewise, to hurl accusations of racism at a student organization, particularly one that has striven to further rational discourse on campus this semester, is disgusting. Well said, UVM student. This prof is a grotesque parody of Orwellian excess, except without the funny.

And from a report on a war roundtable held at Duke: (UNC-CH professor of English Rashmi) Varma discussed the exploitation of Iraqi women and children by the Western world. She stressed that the living conditions of these individuals are used by the United States to dehumanize Iraq and other Islamic countries in order to justify unilateral actions against those nations.

"The United States fights in the name of human rights, but not those of the Iraqis, because they are viewed as inhuman," Varma said. This is willful ignorance, plain and simple. We may be guilty of dehumanizing Saddam Hussein, but I have a sneaking suspicion that his actions against his own people play a pretty big role in our perception of him as an inhuman monster. Children's prisons, anyone?

There are more, but I can't be bothered to document them all--just check out campus newspapers and you'll notice that whenever there's some cockeyed protest or PC controversy there's usually an english professor spearheading the stupidity or shooting off his/her mouth in predictably irresponsible ways. Why? Literature used to be associated with culture; now it's the bedfellow of spurious "cultural criticism." English departments were the first and most eager to embrace all the anti-reader response lit/crit theories, but it appears that they did so uncritically, and now they've internalized post-colonial, deconstructionist, marxist, feminist theory to the point that they approach every aspect of their lives from a theoretical perspective. I know I'm generalizing, but I'm amazed at and disappointed in a discipline that has stopped focusing on the universally human aspects of storytelling and has balkanized and politicized everything to the point that reading it in a classroom context isn't mentally stimulating or even fun anymore.

When you stop looking at a story for the pleasure or revelation it provides and start looking for the "angle" you can play to get published or get an A, then you're doing the literature and the author and yourself a disservice. And when you begin BELIEVING all the theorists and acting as though the only evil on earth is people who don't think exactly as you do, even when you're confronted with evidence to the contrary, then I submit you are no longer intellectually curious or rigorous enough to be in a position to mold young minds. Literature is important and enduring--I only hope that modern lit. theory proves itself the opposite.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at November 19, 2002 07:48 AM