Students don’t mind studying dead white men, but they want dead women too

Jul 19, 2016 by

Jonathan Wolff –

It is time to revisit the higher education syllabus: who is in, who is out, and why

If your only contact with the university system is what you see reported in certain media, you have probably been doing a lot of headshaking about campus life. Controversial speakers are being disinvited; students are avoiding lectures on challenging topics, in fear of trauma; and they are refusing to read the poetry of dead white men.

Well, there are a lot of students in the world, and a good deal of variation in their attitudes and behaviour. Just as Brideshead Revisited is a poor guide to student life, current stereotypes are equally unreliable. I have yet to find a student who objects to studying the works of dead white men. But, rightly, they object to studying only the works of white men, dead or alive.

The challenge is a vital one. It is widely observed that the work of men shows up much more often on reading lists than that of women, even when quality, topic and place of publication are taken into account. Women have been guilty of this bias as well as men. Constant vigilance is needed to stop us all slipping into bad habits.

It is, therefore, time, once again, to revisit the canon of key works: who is in, who is out, and why? But then why is anything in the canon in the first place?

Source: Students don’t mind studying dead white men, but they want dead women too | Education | The Guardian

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