Why do we study Shakespeare in America

Yale: No more reading Shakespeare? You are crazy!

Yale University in Connecticut is always good for a laugh. In November of last year, students at Silliman College wanted to enforce that Halloween costumes that do not offend the feelings of members of minorities should be allowed.

When a lecturer named Erika Christakis then wrote them a long, extremely polite and highly sensitive email in which she asked the students whether they were seriously interested in more rules, more control, more intervention by university authorities, she immediately received it Receipt: A group of students demanded that she and her husband - who teaches as a professor at Yale - should immediately lose their jobs and be chased off campus with disgrace and disgrace.

Now there has been a new prank - a petition from freshmen who have just started their English studies at Yale. This petition states: “We are against still teaching a succession of the great English poets as the main condition for higher study. It is unacceptable that a Yale student considering studying English literature may have read only white male authors. A year that is spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, non-whites, gays and lesbians are blocked out, harms all students, regardless of their identity. The succession of the great English poets creates a culture that is especially hostile to non-white students. "

The basic seminar on white, dead, male writers is to be abolished and replaced by a canon which, in literature before 1800, pays special attention to “gender, race, sexuality, discrimination against the disabled and ethnicity”.

This is short-sighted nonsense

What do you think of that? The first thing to joke is to quote a poet who was undoubtedly white and undeniably masculine. Between us - he was actually a pretty rotten Chauvi. He was also an emigrant, a communist and an opponent of the Nazis. His name: Bertolt Brecht.

There is a poem by him that begins like this: “I heard you don't want to learn anything. / From this I gather: You are millionaires. / Your future is secure - it lies / Before you in the light. Your parents / have made sure that your feet / won't hit a stone. You don't have to learn anything. The way you are / you can stay. "

In all seriousness one would like to reply to the students: Of course Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, John Donne, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Jane Austen, Dickens and Thackeray were caught up in the prejudices of their time. It is not difficult to collect racist or misogynistic statements from them. Shakespeare even wrote an entire anti-Semitic play: "The Merchant of Venice".

But it doesn't help, you still have to read these authors. Why? Because they were geniuses. Because everything that was written afterwards is nothing but variations on themes that they set. Because it is short-sighted nonsense to only speak of the weaknesses of Shakespeare and Co. and not to mention their achievements with a single word: They have that with their works human condition detected.

When 400 years melt into nothing

Dear Yale students, first of all you should listen to the great poet Maya Angelou. A year before her death, in 2013 - she was already in a wheelchair at the time - she told in a moving speech how she discovered the 29th sonnet by William Shakespeare as a young girl in a library in Stamps / Arkansas.