UST Class Action

Sample Class

These are the books that were used in freshmen English 190, sections 41-43, in Fall 2007. One of the goals of the English Department is to “deepen our students understanding of diversity.” They define these "valences of diversity," in their departmental handbook, as “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, class, sexual orientation, and geopolitical positioning.” This class, taught by professors Mikolajczak, Lawrence, and Craft-Fairchild, reflects this tendency to select politically correct modern literature over literature more generally acknowledged as great. See comments from students below.

HANDMAID'S TALE
Author: ATWOOD (feminism, oppressiveness of Christianity, published 1986)

INTUITIONIST
Author: WHITEHEAD (racism, class differences, published 1999)

BLESSING THE BOATS
Author: CLIFTON (racism and feminism, published 2000)

PILLOWMAN
Author: MCDONAGH (Playwright specializes in "in your face theatre," whose purpose is to "…present the audience with vulgar, shocking and confrontational material on stage…" published 2003)

COVERING
Author: YOSHINO (written by homosexual Yale law professor who litigates for gay civil rights published 2006)

SWEET LAND
Author: WEAVER (cohabiting couple ostracized by Lutherans in small town, author from Minnesota, published 2006)

KING LEAR
Author: SHAKESPEARE (The one classic work, published 1608)

HISTORY BOYS
Author: BENNETT (homosexual writer, story includes pederasty, published 2004)

RESURRECTION TRADE
Author: MILLER (a collection of poems regarding anatomical research on female corpses, feminist poet is St. Thomas professor, published 2007)

Student Comments

Note from student to teacher:

"I am a student registered to take English 190 this fall in one of your course sections. I had the opportunity to purchase the books selected for the course. In anticipation of the events and discussion regarding the common text The Handmaid's Tale, I began to read the book. Around chapter twenty-five, I could read no further, disgusted by what Margaret Atwood portrayed. I realize the text probably depicted Atwood's point perfectly, but I feel the handmaid's suppressed sex life did not necessitate such detail. I would be interested to hear why such a novel was chosen for the common text, and what was supposed to be accomplished with the selection. Once I decided to stop reading The Handmaid's Tale, I took a closer look at the other texts selected for the semester. I was disturbed to find only one classic piece of literature, Shakespeare's King Lear, and wondered under what qualifications the other works and collections had been chosen. I understand the need for diversity and exposure. All the texts can not be written by old, white, dead guys. My concerns stem from things like Covering which seems to clearly support an agenda that goes against the teaching of the Catholic Church, the same Church to which UST aligns."
- UST student

“The junk that we are forced to read is not what a Catholic University should be giving students."
- UST student

" I was disgusted with the book (The Handmaid's Tale), with the message of the book, and resented being forced to read it."
- UST student

Other Comments

"Literature no longer explores universal human experience, but instead has become a branch of politics, with a focus on often second-rate works about the victimhood of favored groups."
- Norman Fruman, retired English professor, University of Minnesota

"As... post 1960s college graduates grow older, they will come to understand that their expensive formal education, with its trendiness and lack of breadth or rigor or enduring substance, quite simply failed them--- by failing to connect them to the riches of their own civilization."
- Wilfred McClay, Humanities professor, University of Tennessee