The predictable appeal of racist “antiracism” cant to the world of scholarship and academia in the wake of the fraudulent George Floyd Freakout is producing amusing or frightening results, depending on one’s regard for higher education and resistance to despair.
Today’s sample of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, for example, comes from “Confronting “White Feminism” in the Victorian Literature Classroom,” recently published in the scholarly journal, “Nineteenth Century Gender Studies.” The author is University of California Professor Lana Dalley, who complains that Victorian feminists are “problematic” [There’s that word again!] because they promote “white feminism.” In other words, social commentators and writers of over a hundred years ago don’t seem to reflect the current approved woke perspective of 2021. This is, apparently, a surprise. Here’s her first paragraph, an AFG classic:
“The transition to virtual learning in Spring and Fall 2020 intersected with international protests for racial justice and, more locally, Ronjaunee Chatterjee, Alicia Mireles Christoff, and Amy R. Wong’s call to “undiscipline Victorian Studies” by “interrogat[ing] and challeng[ing] our field’s marked resistance to centering racial logic” (370).(1) More specifically, they call for “illuminat[ing] how race and racial difference subtend our [Victorianists’] most cherished objects of study, our most familiar historical and theoretical frameworks, our most engrained scholarly protocols, and the very demographics of our field” (370). Since then, numerous virtual roundtables and panels have convened to discuss critical approaches to race within Victorian studies and to ponder the relevance of contemporary social justice movements to a field whose borders are historically drawn. This essay emerged from one such panel and offers practical suggestions for reframing pedagogical approaches to Victorian feminist discourses in order to “center racial logic” and “illuminate how race and racial difference subtend” those discourses.(2) Its suggestions are certainly not meant to be exhaustive, but simply to offer one set of practices for making the Victorian literature classroom more responsive to contemporary conversations about race and gender.”
Now who can argue with that?
The rest of the paper is no better, though I admit that I only skimmed it. I have never seen the word “subtend” used once, and it is in that introductory paragraph twice. [subtend: “to be opposite to and extend from one side to the other of a hypotenuse “] I believe it is irresponsible to allow people who can’t speak or write—or think—- clearer than that to teach anything.
Later she writes that the study of Victorian feminism should be framed by modern intersectional feminism, despite the fact that the latter theory didn’t exist at the time, and that teachers should operate under an “antiracist feminist pedagogy,” opposing all Victorian ideals, as embodying “white epistemologies at their heart.” Then she “goes for the gold” in AFG, calling for a move “away from positivist historicism and towards a strategic presentism that challenges the teleological model of feminist thought: a model that suggests progression from singular to multifaceted or, in terms of this essay, from an outdated white feminism to progressive intersectional feminisms.”
Dalley’s talking about ideological indoctrination, not education. That’s pretty much all you need to know. [Pointer: College Fix]
But as Al Jolson used to say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!!” [Al often performed in blackface, so I suppose even quoting him is proof or racism now. Right? Bite me.]
Heather MacDonald reports in the City-Journal that an astronomy course at Cornell University titled “Black Holes: Race and the Cosmos” posits that there is a connection between the cosmos and the idea of racial blackness. Astronomy professor Nicholas Battaglia and comparative literature professor Parisa Vaziri use their course to attack the “conventional wisdom” by drawing on such sources as Emory University English professor Michelle Wright’s book, “The Physics of Blackness: Beyond the Middle Passage Epistemology,” which invokes “Newton’s laws of motion and gravity” and “theoretical particle physics” to “subvert racist assumptions about Blackness.” The Cornell course also considers music by Sun Ra and Outkast to “conjure blackness through cosmological themes.”
She concludes in part,
“The humanities and much of the social sciences have been beyond parody and beyond shame for a long time. What’s different about “Black Holes: Race and the Cosmos” is its co-listing in an actual science department. The course fulfills Cornell’s science distribution requirement, touching as it does on such concepts as the electromagnetic spectrum. It is not surprising that astronomy would be an early adopter of race theory, and that Cornell would lead the way. Many astronomy departments have been on the forefront of campus identity politics, eliminating the physics GRE as a requirement for graduate study, for example, on the ground that it has a disparate impact on female, black, and Hispanic students. Cornell’s astronomy department will not even allow prospective graduate students to submit the general GRE or the physics GRE….
“Today’s academic charlatanism consists in part in mistaking rhetoric for knowledge and words for things. This sleight of hand is particularly prevalent in matters relating to race. Hunter College professor Philip Ewell argues that the concept of tonal and harmonic hierarchies in music theory is a stand-in for pernicious racial hierarchies….
“Seeing specters of racism everywhere, the racial avengers are tearing down every institution associated with Western civilization, simply because of its “whiteness.” Science had stood as a guard against such metaphorical, magical thinking. Bit by bit, it is succumbing.“
Be afraid indeed.