Cambridge University English Students Are Encouraged To Study Kanye West
English students at the University of Cambridge, England are being encouraged to study the likes of rapper Kanye West in an attempt by professors to deflect criticism that their teaching is inherently racist.
According to a report by Daily Mail UK, the professors say the aim is to ‘decolonise’ their course following accusations that there was ‘structural anti-blackness’ at the university.
Earlier this year, an open letter signed by students past and present that condemned the faculty’s ‘structural anti-blackness and racism’ and claimed that Cambridge students were ‘actively discouraged’ from writing about race.
In a letter to students, the English faculty set out a series of measures aimed at achieving a ‘truly decolonised degree’. It cites 6,000-word essays on subjects such as black queer performance poetry, jazz musician Gil Scott-Heron and West, the outspoken husband of reality star Kim Kardashian, as examples of how progress is being made.
Other measures include deliberately choosing Antony and Cleopatra as the Shakespeare set text because it enabled discussions of race and empire, and championing the work of black writers.
The letter says such dissertations highlight how a “significant number of our students are already writing on – and therefore being supervised/taught on – both writers of colour and issues of race, colonialism and empire”. The response also says academics have been warned against using racially-sensitive language, even when the terms are included in the text being studied.
However, critics accuse the university of pandering to fringe groups of ‘woke zealots’ and turning its back on great literature for political reasons.
Chris McGovern of the Campaign For Real Education, a non-profit organisation in the United Kingdom, told Daily Mail that, “It is both laughable and pitiful that the likes of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian can be allowed to deliver a knockout blow against the best that Western civilisation has to offer. A renaissance of culture is needed, not the last rites on great literature and art.”
Frank Furedi, a professor of sociology at Kent University, said the episode proved that “politics trumps academic learning”.
The English faculty’s website says: “We acknowledge our institution… has benefited from the legacies of racism” and vowing change.
A university spokesman said: “The faculty, as with all departments, regularly updates its curriculum. The ongoing changes aim to enrich the course, not to remove authors from study.”