Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pomo education 

The editorial in the Washington Times has fun with the Young America's Foundation list of the twelve most bizarre college classes.
There seems to be dissension in the ranks of the leftist faculties at Occidental College -- we told you to keep your children away from this one -- and Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. No. 5 on YAF's list is Occidental's "Blackness," which dissects the intellectual nuances of "new blackness" and "post-blackness." At No. 7, however, is Mount Holyoke's "Whiteness: The Other Side of Racism." Maybe the Occidental and Mount Holyoke departments should forge an intercollegiate course titled "Whiteness: It's the New Blackness."
Unlike the editorialist, I'm not at all bothered by a course on "taking Marx seriously." It was taken seriously for a long time, and any discussion that could shed light on the millions killed by communism is well worth a student's time. Besides, campuses have many people who do still take it seriously, and it's worth keeping those people preserved like fossils in a museum of natural history.

A course titled "Sex, Rugs, Salt and Coal" at Cornell didn't make the list except as a "dishonorable mention." It would have made mine.
Description: Everything is for sale today- but has it always been? We'll look at the history of various commodities to explore the changing cultural and environmental impacts of market forces. Why are "oriental" rugs collector's items? How did we come to keep salt shakers on our dinner tables? When did coal start replacing wood as a fuel source? This course will cross multiple boundaries of time and space as it examines both case studies and broader theoretical perspectives, allowing us to draw connections between our culture of consumption and the social forces wrapped up in production. How was the taste of sugar linked to the slave trade? Is prostitution really "the oldest profession?" What goes into your daily cup of coffee besides half and half? And what was western society like before everything had a price?
Um, poor. Again, a course taught in an X-studies program. If you're making one of these lists, that's the vein you mine.