I dropped out of English 101 here at UA just 2 yrs ago (why I needed to BE in that class is a longer story) because the first unit, of a first semester, freshman English class, on “Romance & Relationships” was a series of short stories about rape, marital rape, murder, necrophilia, voyeurism, and distopian masturbation… That’s ALL of them… all the readings… in a unit on “romance”.
I did not object (as I do not believe this student objects) due to any shirking from the battle, or avoiding hard thinking, or disengaging from the cultural/intellectual debate or space… That’s laughable in my case… I objected (and I believe he did too) because I have sense of what is a worthy use of my time and what it is to spend my time on unrelenting trash… Unfortunately, I don’t think most freshman have a strong enough sense of self (understandably undeveloped at that young age), to be able to stand up and say “No.” to authorities (strong authorities in this case), when when those same authorities try to impose trash on them.
It’s the responsibility of thoughtful, well meaning professors, to curate a syllabus which will reflect and encourage a valuable expenditure of time and attention for each of their students if followed… Not “unchallenging”, not “safe”, not “simple” or “innocent”… Just VALUABLE.
I’ve seen some professors, academics and scholars, reflexively dismissing this article this morning… Accusing him of retreating from the cultural battle, and the intellectual debate, or worse, slamming his prudishness or superstitious Christian morals. This seems to be flippant (sometimes offensive) disregard for their core responsibility as teachers.
The bottom line is that not everything is worthy of our time, and the hope is that thoughtful college professors will help lead us through the mountains of trash to the gems, not hand us garbage and pretend it’s gold.