Thursday, November 30, 2006

Disgust. - things that steal time -

I realize Elizabeth Kantor's book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature" is meant as a response to a perceived demographic, and a so-called editorial in a forum such as The Boston Globe is designed to infuriate certain members of the public however, I am moved to offer it up for discussion here.

There are so many problems with this editorial, I don't know where to begin. The original conclusion of the 'study' was in regard to civic awareness of American students. The implication of the conclusion of the study is that American high school students apparently learned more in high school about American history than college (the difference of actual knowledge learned about American history from incoming college freshmen to seniors is an negligable 1% according to the study - complete details here - note also the source of funding for the study etc). This woman's reactionary critique of so-called cultural deficiency uses this study as a springboard to then discuss American English departments and attack the perceived methods of their faculty. She mentions how good it is to glorify military acts (using the phrase "military virtue" a couple of times), as well as insisting on vague notions of self-government and appealing to a work of fiction, Milton's "Paradise Lost" as necessary because it is pro-religion and anti-enlightenment.

"CHIVALRY is less an institution than an ideal.
This fact is set forth clearly by Léon Gautier
in his distinguished book, La Chevalerie." - Chivalry in English Literature: Chaucer, Malory, Spenser, and Shakespeare by William Henry Schofield; Harvard University, 1912

Perhaps she should give Francis Wheen's book "How Mumbo-jumbo Conquered The World" a try. Then again, that will never happen as this book is published by Regnery. It is an odd enterprise: to publish a series of books like this that are largely based on ideology than anything else.

There is no Ministry of Culture in America and therefore no official culture per se. To argue that there is one coherent basis for Western (apparently exclusively English language according to Ms. Kantor) thought, that somehow modern academics are neglecting, is fallacious.

The Letters section of the Boston Globe echoes my response. As well as this set of letters.

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