Penn Students Remove Portrait of Shakespeare With Black Feminist Author

william-shakespeareWe have previously followed controversies at leading universities where students have objected to reading works by white males (even as part of classic English literature courses). Now, students at the University of Pennsylvania removed a portrait of Shakespeare from a prominent location in the school’s English department because he is a white male. He was replaced by Audre Lorde, a black feminist and author who died in 1992.

The department chair observed that the students removed the portrait as “a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department.”

Here is what I fail to understand. Department Chair Jed Esty explained that the portrait was “delivered” to his office and said that the portrait of Lorde will remain in Shakespeare’s place until he and his colleagues can reach an agreement on what to do next. In a stereotype of the erosion of academic integrity and principles, Esty said that they would create a “working group” to help monitor the process.

Here is another possibility. You put the portrait back and discipline any students that damaged school property (which does not appear to be the case). Whatever the value of Lorde’s work, she is not the equal of Shakespeare as an influence on literature. You do not need a committee to explain that obvious fact.  There is of course no problem is honoring Lorde for her own contributions but the concern among some in academia is that we are watching a comprehensive attack on classical literature and training.  This small story hit a nerve for that reason.

Instead, the working group will discuss the “departmental mission in the current political climate” and “initiate an open and collaborative conversation among students, faculty, and employees in English to come up with ideas for that public space.”

Notably, the English Department voted a few years ago to replace the portrait. Why? I cannot think of a more meaningful image for any English department.

89 thoughts on “Penn Students Remove Portrait of Shakespeare With Black Feminist Author”

  1. Rather than remove Will’s portrait, would it not be reasonable to simply add portraits of the other “usual suspects along side Will’s?”

  2. The inmates are running the Asylum? Actually I thought this through. Since none of them speak English in any known dialect but sort of dialectic off the walls I would suggest let them speak California Valley. Abouot eight words maybe nine and one punctuation. The question mark.’

    If they join the real world and are not literate – not my problem. let them sign up for welfare or whatever useless non-entities do. Just tell them it’s a high paying safe spot.

  3. We should not be surprised by this shameful action taken by a major university. Standards in America have fallen far below abysmal levels. It is a sobering thought to recognize that not too long ago Kennedy had the vision to put a man on the moon, while today, Obama has achieved his vision by putting one in the ladies restroom.

  4. This is the Democrats’ attempt at what the Nazis called “Gleichschaltung.” This is a new word I learned today while reading about Irma Glese. Wiki describes it as:

    In Nazi terminology, Gleichschaltung (German pronunciation: [ˈɡlaɪçʃaltʊŋ]), was the process of Nazification by which Nazi Germany successively established a system of totalitarian control and coordination over all aspects of society, “from the economy and trade associations to the media, culture and education”.[1]

    Or, from another website:

    In Nazi Germany, a chief role of culture was to disseminate the Nazi world view. One of the first tasks Nazi leaders undertook upon their ascension to power in early 1933 was a synchronization (Gleichschaltung) of all professional and social organizations with Nazi ideology and policy. The arts and cultural organizations were not exempt from this effort. Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, immediately strove to bring the artistic and cultural communities in line with Nazi goals. The government purged cultural organizations of Jews and others alleged to be politically or artistically suspect.

    On May 10, 1933, Nazi activists and members of the National Socialist German Students’ Association (Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund, or NSDStB) organized nationwide book burning ceremonies in which they consigned to flames the works of such “un-German” writers as Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, and the texts of Jewish authors, including such famous German writers as Franz Werfel, Lion Feuchtwanger, and Heinrich Heine.

    Beginning in September 1933, a new Reich Culture Chamber (Reichskulturkammer)—an umbrella organization composed of the Reich Film, Music, Theater, Press, Literary, Fine Arts, and Radio Chambers—moved to supervise and regulate all facets of German culture.

    The new Nazi aesthetic embraced the genre of classical realism. The visual arts and other modes of “high” culture employed this form to glorify peasant life, family and community, and heroism on the battlefield; and attempted to exemplify such “German virtues” as industry, self-sacrifice, and “Aryan” racial purity. In Nazi Germany, art was not just “for art’s sake,” but had a calculated propagandistic undercurrent: it stood in stark contrast to the trends of modern art in the 1920s and 1930s, much of which employed abstract, expressionist, or surrealist tenets. In July 1937 a “Great German Art Exhibition” displaying the cultural bent of National Socialist artistic taste premiered in the House of German Art in Munich.

    I suspect it shan’t be long until the Democrats and Social Justice Warriors are openly burning books along with the flag.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Hi Squeeky, great post and illuminating as always. Ja, the “degenerate art” that was destroyed by the Nazis was a travesty. Fortunately there were many American collectors – many of them Jewish – who were able to purchase the modern masters and bring them over here.

      I love the German expressionists and it’s horrifying that so many of their works were destroyed.

      Sadly, no Dem or SJW reading your post would understand it.

      1. Hi Autumn!!!

        Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, but I still have 6 foster kittens left. Two of the eight found new homes, and they seem to be doing fine. I have have found homes for 4 others, but they haven’t been picked up yet. I will probably keep two of them myself. We are trying to catch Momma before she gets knocked up again, but she is clever, and avoids the trap. Anyway, I can’t post until they are asleep, and all my other work is done. I let them out of the play pen several times a day, and it is just kittens zooming and pouncing and galloping everywhere! But, it tuckers them out, and then they crash.

        I think I am very blessed. Most people don’t even have one kitten at Christmas, and here I had 8 of them! One of my other cats, the youngest one, seems to think she is a kitten, too and other times she thinks she is their mother.

        I bought a book on Irma Grese, and that is where I found out about “Gleichschaltung.” I also found the University of New Zealand which has a fantastic online library, sooo I printed out some Otto Spengler stuff, who I think was a writer, and also maybe a Nazi commando! Anyway, here is a link, and let me tell you, this website has a ton of free articles!

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

        1. Squeek, you ARE blessed. What a vision of kittens running around. I’d like to get another cat but mine is a tough thug – loving to us but beats up other cats and even tries to take on large dogs! =) Thankfully he doesn’t bother the guinea pig – I think he just views him as a lesser being.

          Good site – thanks for posting it. I read some Adorno stuff some years back – I was into several of the Frankfurt School writers – Erich Fromm is my fav.

          But honestly my mind is so frazzled from the election, Wikileaks revelations, the cultural onslaught by the SJWs I have fled to novels and films for some escape.

          1. Autumn – I just picked up a brand new biography of Rasputin. Some 600+ pages plus footnotes totaling 800 pages. From what I have already read, he is a thorough researcher.

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