Letters of Support
These are two samples of letters of support that we have received:
I just perused your website and am very happy with what I found… I am a senior at UST that will graduate with a degree in Biology this spring. I was disgusted my freshmen year when we were forced to read a pro-communist memoir of Ariel Dorfmann, Looking South, Heading North. It did not include the vulgarity presented in Handmaid's Tale, but nonetheless, I thought it was a colossal waste of time when we could have been reading great classic literature. In today's media driven culture, reading classic literature is becoming more and more archaic. There is NO better opportunity to introduce Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, or Chesterton to students than required freshmen reading. I think we need to keep up this fight until incoming freshmen at UST are actually afforded the opportunity to read great classic literature that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
I also agree that forcing ideological garbage in place of truly great literature has ABSOLUTELY no place in a self-proclaimed Catholic University. After four years at St. Thomas, I regret to say that there is nothing truly Catholic about the University in any of the departments (including the "theology" department) outside of the department of Catholic Studies.
It really is frustrating that an English department can sink to such embarrassing lows… If students would prefer to be exposed to the vulgarities of modern "thought," they always have the opportunity to choose public, secular Universities like the one just a few minutes from UST, the University of Minnesota. For those that choose a to spend the extra money to attend a private, Catholic University, they should be obligated to receive an actual Catholic education, which should provide literature that gracefully portrays the moral and spiritual truths of Christianity, rather than, what time will no doubt show, are cheap, mindless, and inappropriate attempts to propagate radical ideologies.
We can all rest assured, within the next 100 years, books like Handmaids Tale, and Looking South, Heading North, will be long forgotten, while the great classic literature that the English department is currently withholding from UST freshmen will certainly be living on as always.
I had the "pleasure" of being exposed to the writings (rantings?) of Margaret Atwood during my years as an English major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and was surprised and disappointed, to say the least, that The Handmaids Tale had been chosen as the Common Text at UST this year. (Our oldest son is a freshman at UST). Not wanting to condemn something without reading it, I forced myself to slog through it, and by the end, didn't know whether to laugh or cry. What a twisted and perverse view of Christianity and society Ms. Atwood has.
I find it tremendously ironic that so much of the good work being done around the world is being done by those with strong religious beliefs, Catholics and Protestants alike, and yet somehow Atwood sees a world where religion is the ultimate corrupter. (Guess all the Christian aid workers in Africa, battling for the education of women and against rape and genital mutilation are just biding their time, covering up their real reason for being there: to oppress women...! HA!) Aside from that, the book itself is poorly plotted; was there no resistance to the zealots? Were the women so unintelligent that they forgot how to read in one generation? Possessed no ability to fight for themselves?
Ludicrous!! These are the things that made me laugh; the part that made me cry was that I had to pay for my son to take this nonsense (and read other books equally as bad--check out the neurotic/pathetic suburban life portrayed in Revolutionary Road and the alcoholic narrator in A Fan's Notes ). If you don't want students to read all dead white males, okay, but this isn't diversity, it's class/religious/sexual politics. There is great MODERN literature out there, and wonderful literature that has spoken to man through the ages; too bad the English department at UST was unable to find any of it.
I think the saddest comments of all came from my son who told me he had only finished one book in his English class last semester because they were all so bad, and that after this semester he would be free of English forever! He is an avid reader; we have passed books back and forth between us for years. It was so sad for me to think that all he got out of his college English experience was relief that he would never have to take another class in the dept. Is that the best we can do at an expensive, well- regarded, Catholic university? (And by the way, I am not Catholic, but I was highly offended at the portrayal of the Christian religion). At the very least, these classes and material should be in the elective section of the dept. Why expose everybody to this garbage? We sent our son to UST for a liberal arts education, which should not be the same as a Liberal indoctrination. Can you imagine the furor that would erupt if a novel like this, but with an anti-Muslim bent, was being taught on campus?
Thank you for the energy you have obviously put into this. I will be writing everyone on your list, along with the trustees of the University. If there is anything else I can do, please let me know. We have 3 other children who will be starting college over the next seven years, and this episode will figure highly in where we send them, not because it is an isolated incident, but because it is an indicator of institutional rot.