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Student forces Cambridge to drop white authors

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Orkrider2, Oct 26, 2017.

  1. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I've been reading around on this story ... the usual suspects on both sides... but ..

    Can someone clarify... one source LINK talks about it being

    So this isn't a full compulsory course, it's an optional module... which is stylised as post colonial? I know it's the Guardian [the link] so it might be their spin which is why I'm confused. But a postcolonial module would seem to me to have to include non-white voices.

    Or was the discussion for the whole of the English course and not just this one module?
  2. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    My thoughts are it's the language used... it is what they are in opposition to rather than what they are in favour of.

    So if they were saying ''but can we study some texts written from an African or Caribbean perspective?'' then ... yeah sure, especially in a post-colonial discussion.

    But IF they frame it as ''we don't want to read work by these groups [male, white etc]'' then it comes across as hostile and atomising [us vs. them].
    Oscillatingass likes this.
  3. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    That looks like a split between the traditional academic subjects and the vocational.

    I like you used to believe that some subjects were more important in the workplace and there may be an element of truth in that for essentially practical subjects, however we live in a more complicated world where as noseymatron pointed out a variety on essentially non practical skills are exercised or perhaps should be every day.

    I don't like the idea that some degrees are more useful to society and business than others, it's too simplistic, what about the individual not to mention time frame since they are now in essence self funding, when business stumps up for the cost of skills and knowledge transfer then it can dictate what is useful.

    For example my first masters was completely unrelated to my work at the time, I studied out if ability and interest (as with the first degree to be fair), but they became increasingly more relevant in later life, the second masters was directly related to work at the time and is essentially now completely unrelated to my current situation, both were "useful" if you like and facilitated my career development, providing skills and knowledge that were also passed on to others both formally and informally... but perhaps would not be as "useful" to the next person or be deemed to be useful to society or the employer throughout that time frame.

    I used to scoff at education for education sake, alas no more, without it what happens to the arts, culture, and history? By the way, used effectively history is useful to win or avoid wars... The knowledge the past as they say can help pave the way for the future. We need thinkers as well as doers, especially as doers are current *and have been for a while more easily replaced.
  4. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    This post is so brilliant it is off the scale of brilliance. :)
    needabreak likes this.
  5. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Apologies for the multiple typos... I sometimes dislike using my phone for such things with a passion. Consequently I was going to retype the whole thing with corrections on the computer but alas can't really be bothered. *This could be the topic of a whole new thread.
    george1963 likes this.
  6. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Part of the reason I started this thread was because the Telegraph had painted the students as framing their opinions as 'we don't want to read stuff by white men', when actually it was quite clear in the letter and in conversations they'd had with the lecturer involved, that the idea being expressed was the desire to have a more inclusive curriculum that included more non-white authors.

    That misrepresentation in itself was the thing that irritated me the most, because it's designed to do nothing but create a hostile reaction, specifically towards a black woman whose picture was plastered all over the front page, and who allegedly received a flood of racist and sexist abuse after the article was published.
    Flere-Imsaho and emerald52 like this.
  7. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    Of course you can study texts not written by white men. What about Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolfe etc
    nomad likes this.
  8. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Ah see in all my googling I haven't seen a copy of their actual letter.

    So could be I was off track and was responding more to your language than theirs. Is the letter online?
    bombaysapphire likes this.
  9. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

  10. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

  11. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    Says someone who has no experience of it.
    bombaysapphire likes this.
  12. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Indeed, it was a critique of the actions of the media... we have digressed somewhat. I'm not sure who among us believes that reporting should be:

    a) prioritised in terms of national importance
    b) a true reflection of events
    c) non inflammatory in nature or content.

    The apology was clearly not on a par with the scale of the original article either, but is perhaps to be expected when they aren't going to be taken to court for defamation by a large multinational corporation.
    bombaysapphire likes this.
  13. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    It was the Torygraph so it is not such a surprise.
  14. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    I had the same reaction. Some of it comes across as somewhat bullish, but I think it's important to remember that none of these people are in a position to actually implement any of the suggested changes. The letter is designed to be a discussion starter, and so I can forgive it for that. She does say clearly 'This is not a call for the exclusion of white men from reading lists', though.

    As for the suggestions (Edited to reflect their language, rather than the Telegraph's):
    One week out of a whole term on Shakespeare looking at his work from a post-colonial context doesn't seem outrageous. That's what, one or two lectures?
    Moving post colonial books out of the basement and into the library, also not outrageous.
    A speaker series/book club on post colonial works, doesn't even affect the current curriculum because it's presumably extracurricular?
    Inclusion of 2 or more BME authors on each exam paper - I can't tell because I don't know how many authors they'd have normally. If it's a choice of 20, then yeah seems reasonable. If it's only 5, 2 BME is probably too much.
    Seminar series? Again, I don't know whether this would replace something or be extra-curricular.
    Diversity training, being more inclusive - standard request
    Zero-tolerance policy to the dismissal of race as a subject worthy of discussion/enquiry in essays I think is fair enough so long as the discussion/enquiry is making a relevant point and it's only implemented when the subject is being dismissed because it makes the lecturer/other students uncomfortable.
    lanokia likes this.
  15. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    I understand that The Telegraph have apologised for inaccuracies in the article. So it was just click bait.
  16. lexus300

    lexus300 Star commenter

    You do not know prejudice if you think that. I have experienced violent prejudice on a number of occasions. You have to put it behind you and move on, life is for living not whinging.
    nomad likes this.
  17. lexus300

    lexus300 Star commenter

    I still fail to see the relevance of skin colour or ethnicity when looking for and reading literature. The contents either meet curriculum and/or research requirements or they do not. If the literature search undertaken by that student failed to cover the length breadth and depth required then perhaps the student was not looking hard enough. There is so much out there now they are spoiled for choice and maybe that is the problem. When I took my degree it was reference library browsing, librarian help, card index, word of mouth and lucky finds. We managed it OK then so why ever not, now?
  18. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    All seems reasonable except for the final point. If the person marking the essay in question deems the discussion on race to be irrelevant to the subject(s) under consideration in the essay he/she should be allowed to do so without a rule on zero tolerance to discussion of racism rule being applied. His/her ability to make judgments on academic merit should be completely respected. Underlying this seems to be a notion that Cambridge Dons are all racists if they do not allow students to bang on about race in their written work. Dont get me wrong: if race is a relevant factor in the essay absolutely fine but the person marking the essay should have the freedom to assess on academic grounds not political ones and certainly should not have to mark written work constrained by some ridiculous rule. (this was a reply to Orkriders outline of the content of the student letter)
    lexus300 likes this.
  19. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Well, one of their suggestions was that authors that reflect a post-colonial context of literature be moved from down in the basement and into the library.
    Also, another one was that if they want to explore the literature from the context of racial politics or a post-colonial point of view, that shouldn't be discouraged or prevented because it's just as valid as other avenues of research.
  20. lexus300

    lexus300 Star commenter

    Just as long as it is kept to the content and perspectives required for the research I am in full agreement. To bring in an authors colour or ethnicity as a requirement seems beyond the point of sensible research to me.

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