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”
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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.
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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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.
I had a high school friend who went to the Stevens Institute of Technology. He thought so much of it, he called it the Stevens Higher Institute of Technology!
Isn’t there a sister campus? Franklin University of Central Kansas?
I wonder what will become of all the “Don’t sit here” signs on TriMet buses with a person sitting inside a circle/slash logo (see URL). My attempts at modification have so far been thwarted by all the video cameras on each bus. 😉
Lord, sometimes they make it just too easy.
Here is the product you need.
A little sleight of hand practice and no camera can stop you.
A Sharpie can be your friend in comedy.
The rumor was that Sam Houston Tech was originally called Sam Houston Institution of Technology.
Gimme an S! “S!!”
Gimme an H! “H!!”
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.
I especially like the girlpower fairytale about spread spectrum technology being invented by Hedy Lamarr.
Fairy tale? The frequency agility mode on aircraft radar I worked on in the Air Force was a direct outgrowth of her co-invention. I literally put my hands on what she invented.
“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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