Thursday, August 31, 2006


Read about this mandatory reading for all freshmen at Baruch Colleg. This is the kind of stuff that passes for "reading" these days at colleges. But Plato's Republic? Naw. Paradise Lost? Students haven't heard of these works.

Read this link from Baruch College

Click on the links for "suggestions for faculty" and "study guides for students." Soldiers, particularly, will be outraged.

I found this on the Phi Beta Cons blog of National Review Online, where such outrages are reported.

This is criminal. A certain Russian novelist wrote about this kind of indoctrination under the Soviets. But nobody reads him any more because he is a Christian.

And even here in Decatur, Georgia, there is a literary event for the masses, the over-taxed illiterate literati who frequent poetry slams or who think that Michael Moore produces documentaries. This tres chic part of the Atlanta metro area will host the first ever Decatur Book Festival. As a DeKalb County taxpayer I am forced to help pay for the speaking fees of such literary luminaries as Arianna Huffington. Take a look at the line-up.

hi mary.... we lead into, quite nicely the major foible of "No Child Left Behind".

Had we had an opposition party, instead of an opposition clique within the GOP, we would have long ago demanded accountability and tracking of the billions that go into said program, becaussssssssssse.....

We are all paying for this crap directly, at the public school level, and indirectly to the DEA for such masterpieces as "Piss Christ".

Excellent post as usual, although I thing that my own intellect is growing, as unbelieveable as this may seem, in that I actually read through your entire post WITHOUT need of a dictionairy!

You are right, Paul. The people in charge of making the laws and allocating funds have no idea what kind of garbage students are required to read and "discuss." The lunatics (teachers and curriculum developers) are running the asylums (the schools). All we really need are the classics. No anthologies that constantly need to be revised and updated. No laptops. Paper and pencil. A chalkboard. I am available as a consultant. I could save school districts and universities lots of money.
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Mary Grabar writes:

"A certain Russian novelist wrote about this kind of indoctrination under the Soviets. But nobody reads him any more because he is a Christian."

That's ridiculous. Dostoyevsky was a Christian. Tolstoy was a Christian. Hawthorne, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Tolkien, T. S. Eliot--all were Christians, and we read them in lit courses.

Solzhenitsyn may not be widely read, but I doubt it's because he's a Christian. And I have personally seen copies of _The Gulag Archipelago_ on the stacks in my university's bookstore (for ENGL 2110, if memory serves).

And, are you conservatives still obsessing over the "Piss Christ"? That was one event, and it happened 17 years ago. Don't you think it's time to give it a rest? The gov't organization that sponsored Serrano's exhibit, by the way, was the NEA (for National Endowment for the Arts), not the DEA. The Drug Enforcement Administration has never sponsored any art exhibitions, to my knowledge.

Take care,
Dave Mead
I forgot to mention that Chris Hedges, the reading of whose _War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning_ you oppose, is a Christian. One of his more recent offerings is entitled _Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America_. It is an argument in favor of living one's life by the tablets.


DEA is the Detroit Education Associaltion, one of two teachers unions there..........

Should have clairified, but you can take the dude out of Detroit but not Detroit out of the dude!

PC was just one example. I get about 2 or 3 per week via townhall, etc.

I've been hearing the argument from multiculturalists for years, Mr. Mead (Professor Mead?), that there is room for the multicultural texts AND the classics, but the reality is that there is only so much time in the semester and teachers fill the syllabus with books promoting their agendas. So one Solzhenitsyn book is listed for a course? What are the other books? What is the introduction in the book like? If you read the introduction to his work in the anthology I am required to use you will definitely see a bias against him. Then read the introduction to the Native American scalp dances. The scalp dances are presented as the highest art. The Christian author is presented as the repressed bigot. Mr. Mead's arugment is not new: look we still let them read Shakespeare and Solzhenitsyn! We even have one copy on the bookstore shelf!

And whether or not Chris Hedges is a Christian is beside the point. The fact is that FRESHMEN are required to read a polemic about current affairs and then given slanted discussions. (Imagine if Ann Coulter's book had been chosen.) And this while the classics that would give them a foundation for making a judgment on this polemic have either been virtually eliminated from the curriculum or taught from a certain slant, i.e., the sexist thought of Aristotle. You know the reality, Mr. Mead. But you try to cover it up to outsiders (parents and taxpayers who pay tuition). The classic authors rarely get a fair hearing in the university.
Dr. Grabar,
No, I’m not a professor. I am an undergraduate English Education major at Kennesaw.

Have you read Hedges’ book? I have, and I can attest that there’s nothing polemical about it. For his epigram, Hedges uses the last stanza from Wilfred Owen’s most famous poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est.” Indeed, had Owen himself been a prose stylist rather than a poet, this is the book he might have written.

Hedges’ purpose is to use his considerable experience as a war correspondent to graph certain societal patterns of behavior that, according to him, always accompany war through all of its various stages, regardless of the particular cultures involved. He describes in graphic detail the horrors he has witnessed the world over--that is to say the unmitigated suffering inflicted on soldier and civilian alike--from Serbia to Rwanda to Iraq. If Hedges’ book is polemical at all, then, it is polemical not against the policies of any particular political party, but against “war fever” itself, as well as that tendency we have, especially those of us in the modern West who have never experienced the horrors of war first hand, to take war a little too lightly (“I don’t care whether Bush invades Iraq,” said my 28-year-old niece, back in 2003. “I just wish he would get on with whatever he’s going to do, so everyone would stop talking about it”). Hedges’ argument has more in common, therefore, with Mark Twain’s little-read short story “The War Prayer” than it does with the works of any of our modern day purveyors of screed. As Hedges, himself no pacifist, admits, “I wrote this book not to dissuade us from war but to understand it.” And he adds, “It is especially important that we, who wield such massive force across the globe, see within ourselves the seeds of our own obliteration.” Surely, given the terrifying times in which we live, it is most important that college freshmen learn to grapple with these issues. Moreover, Hedges’ book is extremely well-written (and is therefore a great example of “creative nonfiction”). If you haven’t read it, you should.

I agree with you on the teaching of classics. In fact, I take much of my own educational philosophy from Carol Jago, author of _With Rigor for All: Teaching the Classics to Contemporary Students_, the very first line of which reads, “All books are not created equal.” Her canon of “classics” includes, however, everything from _Beowulf_ to _Moby-Dick_ to Toni Morrison’s novel _Jazz_. And I can say in all honesty that, of all the lit courses I've taken, both here and at Columbus State U., rarely have we covered a single work whose place I would deny in the canon.

Sorry, I meant to say epigraph, not -gram.
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