An Anti-Progressive Syllabus

And yet, outside the anthologies and beyond the campus, these outlooks have influenced public policy at the highest levels. Their endurance in public life is a rebuke to the humanities reading list, and it recasts the putative sophistication of the curriculum into its opposite: campus parochialism. The damage it does to humanities students can last a lifetime, and I’ve run into far too many intelligent and active colleagues who can rattle off phrases from “What Is an Author?” and Gender Trouble, but who stare blankly at the mention of The Public Interest and A Nation at Risk.

This is a one-sided education, and the reading list needs to expand. To that end, here are a few texts to add to this fall’s syllabus. They reflect a mixture of liberal, libertarian, conservative, and neoconservative positions, and they serve an essential purpose: to broaden humanistic training and introduce students to the full range of commentary on cultural values and experience. —Mark BauerleinAn Anti-Progressive Syllabus (Inside Higher Ed)

Just filing this for future reference. I taught a lit-crit class for the first time last term. It was organized around a core of four or five literary texts that we kept reading and re-reading under different critical lenses, so there wasn’t much room in the course for a free-floating political diatribe that was unconnected to primary reading. I did add “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” which wasn’t in the anthology, but is on Bauerlein’s list.

As a journalism teacher I have a professional interest in objectivity, so it was natural for me to seek an anthology that was organized with contrast and multiple perspectives in mind, rather than one that promoted institutional branding. Still, that course was already fairly intense…

We are starting up a new “Writing about Literature” course, which is for all English majors (lit, creative writing, and new media journalism), so it makes sense to offer a very broad range of ideas in that course, while I taught the “Literary Criticism” course in order to prepare students to deal with criticism in grad school.