Felice Nudelman is the chancellor of Antioch University.
At a time of ever increasing cultural diversity and political division, we need to redefine what the literary canon should represent so students can contribute more fully to the economic, cultural and social capital of this country.
It is one thing to study the ‘Great Books,’ quite another to let that list be narrowly defined by a small legacy subset of our culture.
Presenting the views of only a few great white male writers on strife, life and humanity will limit students’ understanding of a changing world and their framework for leadership. We need to broaden the discussion and demand a higher level of awareness and openness. It is one thing to study the “Great Books,” quite another to let that list be narrowly defined by a small legacy subset of our culture.
This greater inclusiveness should not just be demanded of the literary canon, but of other curricula in the sciences and arts. The text I was required to buy when I studied art history as an undergraduate did not include a single woman artist. The New York Times recently reported on the longevity of the Guerrilla Girls, a group who for three decades demanded a greater presence of female artists in museums. What was startling was an accompanying chart showing the lack of progress made in those decades.