English Teacher Won’t Teach Shakespeare Because He’s White and Dead

Imagine a long chain comprised of links, each preceding link necessary for the subsequent link. Now imagine you attempt to understand the chain in a wholistic sense, but instead of surveying it at length, you instead start midway down the chain. At best, you have a sense of effect without knowing any of the causes. What good is abstract art if you don't know what is being abstracted? One style or form emulates or deviates from another, not one coming ex nihil. Study in a vacuum for diversity's sake is anti-intellectual.

If you are to study English and derive any meaningful sense of its genesis, how we got to where we are now, and where we might be headed, we ought to study Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer, Beowulf, etc., as well as later English texts, including Shakespeare's plays—not only because they explicitly and implicitly inform the English social imaginary (even if people are not aware of it), but because many of the idioms, aphorisms, and words we employ today originated in the links some in this thread are willing or keen to ignore or discount. You can't deconstruct if you don't understand the original construction; that's just called destruction.

I feel this personal anecdote is analogous to the problem evidenced above. One of my graduate professors was a so-called expert on Deleuze. S/he wrote extensively on his philosophy, but when pressed to explain precisely how he innovated and departed from Spinoza (a philosopher who influenced Deleuze greatly), s/he ultimately had no idea. Her understanding of Deleuze's importance and innovation was purely superficial. Without an understanding of his influences, his philosophical context, and the logic he undermined in order to reach his hackneyed conclusions, this so-called Deleuze expert had clipped a single link and missed the chain altogether.

/r/nottheonion Thread Parent Link - thefederalistpapers.org