Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Common experience?

Apparently, Duke University is recommending that incoming students read a book noted for its salacious content and images as a part of their "Common Experience" program.  Now this is interesting not really because of the intellectual content--I remember that "Gravity's Rainbow" was assigned to my freshman English class when I was a young skull full of mush, and it's got its coarser parts--but rather because it's got a number of questionable images, and because it's supposedly about the "common experience" of incoming freshmen. 

Regarding the images, it's interesting because anyone who saw the 1968 movie "Romeo and Juliet" during high school English class probably remembers only about ten seconds of the movie--and which ten seconds depends on whether you find Olivia Hussey or Leonard Whiting more interesting, if you catch my drift.  So if one desires to impact the minds of incoming students, a graphic novel of the likes of  Fun Home is an odd choice, to put it mildly. 

Or, to be more blunt, a university still dealing with the lacrosse case of 2006, and lampooned by Tom Wolfe in I am Charlotte Simmons, might want to shy away from actions that would likely increase the sexual tension among incoming freshmen.

More importantly, putting the situation described in Fun Home as a normal, "common", it's normal or common for kids to be a lesbian raised by a closeted homosexual who apparently was guilty of molesting high school boys, and then to write a graphic novel depicting many phases of this?  Really?

From what I've read--which does not include the book--I have no trouble with the argument that Fun Home may be a significant book that ought to be read by all kinds of people, including fundamental Christians.  It raises all kinds of questions that ought to interest us.  By choosing the book for common experience, however, it seems to me that Duke is not as interested in raising the questions as it is in giving the politically correct answers.

In other words, it's yet another sign of the death--a suicide, really--of real education in prestigious academies like Duke.  Just what Tom Wolfe noted in I am Charlotte Simmons.

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