New York Times Magazine, calls for the suppression of canonical works of epic poetry, theater and literature, because they are tainted with racism.
In this context, Baylor Honors College recently hosted the Drumwright Family Lecture featuring Dr. Angel Adams Parham, associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, who shared a different perspective through his lecture, Canonical reading that fills the divisions: a balm for the conflicts that afflict us.
“Sure, there are uses of the classics that bolster white supremacy, but that’s not what they need to be,” Parham said. “The problem is rather a narrow reading of the canon, a misunderstanding of history and a lack of imagination. Lucky for us, each of these problems can be solved.
Throughout his lecture, Parham, who studies the historical and comparative-historical sociology of race, presented brilliant ways of reading the canon taking into account different voices and perspectives.
“Colored voices should not be artificially introduced into the canon as they are already there,” Parham said. “If you revisit the literature, there are connections to various communities and voices that just haven’t been historically featured.”
According to Parham, it’s impossible to fully understand the writings of black canonical authors – whether Terence, Harriet Beecher Stowe, WEB Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, or James Baldwin – without reading the classics first.
“If you look at the forefront of black history, these leaders had a classical education and were inspired by the same great works,” Parham said. “What if, instead of seeing the oppression in canonical writers, we saw the beauty, creativity and excellence that comes from living at the crossroads of cultural and intellectual? What if, instead of finding ways to get writers off our lists, we find ways to get them to convert? ”
In keeping with Parham’s ideas, Honors College will begin offering a new course next fall titled “Great Texts of the Black Intellectual Tradition,” which will be available as an elective course for all undergraduates.
“The course aims to explore some of the ways black Americans have written about their distinctive experiences of resisting oppression, marginalization, inequality, slavery, poverty, and abuse of authority. 18th to 21st century, as well as the deep links between these experiences. and the creation of new forms of artistic beauty and literary excellence, ”said Dr Robert Miner, professor of philosophy in the Grands Textes program.
The course will be taught as a seminar and will feature works by Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, WEB Du Bois, Toni Morrison, etc.
“The point is to learn new and surprising things from the texts, taking them seriously as part of liberal education,” Miner said. “These writings give us a window into what it is like to have experiences that are probably foreign to many of us and are amazing examples of beautiful and transformative writing.”
To explore these questions further with Dr Parham, you can watch his lecture here.
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ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF HONOR
Baylor University’s Honors College brings together four innovative interdisciplinary programs – the Honors Program, University Scholars, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, and Great Texts – with a common commitment to providing undergraduates with the opportunity to answer questions that often fall between the meshes of disciplines specializing in investigating the writings of scientists as well as the writings of poets, historians and philosophers. For more information, visit baylor.edu/honorscollege.