Geoffrey Chaucer: a victim of the university diversity drive?

Jan 22, 2021 by

by Rory Waterman, UnHerd:

A few days ago, management told the English department at the University of Leicester that they’d no longer be teaching Geoffrey Chaucer — or any medieval literature for that matter. In response, an English lecturer at the university tweeted: ‘Leicester yesterday announced redundancy consultation with specific plans to … cease teaching medieval areas, and reduce early modern. You can probably imagine how I feel.’

I can. But I think we should all feel something similar.

This academic also tweeted a screenshot of the university’s rationale: to ‘strengthen English’, and provide room for ‘modules on race, ethnicity, sexuality and diversity, a decolonised curriculum, and new employability modules’. My eyes nearly fell out at this — because I know Leicester already has these things covered, robustly and fruitfully.

I spent six years there studying two degrees, briefly taught in the department, and still have friends among the staff. Learn to read through this rhetoric, and quickly, because it exemplifies a phenomenon we will see repeated widely: an organisation using the language of Social Justice, and the cultural capital it brings, to dampen dissent.

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