Feature

Getting a degree in victimhood

To major in English at a fine university, you’d think you’d need to know something of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton.

Heather Mac DonaldThe Wall Street Journal

To major in English at a fine university, you’d think you’d need to know something of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton, said Heather Mac Donald. But not anymore. After a revolt by young faculty members, the prestigious English department at the University of California, Los Angeles, has dumped requirements that majors study the work of these dead white males in favor of courses in Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and Disability and Sexuality Studies. It’s a widespread trend in the study of the humanities: “an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics.” A humanities education once gave students a tour through the finest knowledge, philosophical thought, and artistry of Western civilization. But many postmodern academics and students view all that as a dated legacy of the “Empire.” So the humanities are now the study of oppression in all its forms—of women, of people of color, of people of different sexual orientations. Plato? Shakespeare? Mozart? Just three more oppressive white males. No wonder interest in the humanities is in steep decline.

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