August 24, 2006

Good. God.

I give you The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature as reviewed by the Claremont Institute:

As the editors declare in the preface, "In our choice of texts and in our introductions, we have paid close attention to…perceptions of race, class, and gender, among other topics, in shaping children's literature and childhood itself." Practically every text and every author (save for the "emergent") is subjected to a wicked scolding from the editors for its racism, sexism, and elitism. Forget about ogres, witches, monsters, and evil stepmoms; today's villains are gender stereotypes, white males, the middle class, and the traditional family. Retrograde literature must therefore be replaced by a new one, one that is, as it were, beyond good and evil: "In our postmodern age, in which absolute judgments of 'good' and 'evil' are no longer easily made, the distinction between heroes and villains is often blurred."

The editors herald this as a great advance, one they wish to promote by burying the stories under a ton of commentary. To read a children's story out of context, say the editors, is so passé (so childish?): "Discourses such as reader-response theory, poststructuralism, semiotics, feminist theory, and postcolonial theory have proven to be valuable in analyzing children's books." Thus the editors introduce Fun with Dick and Jane by noting that the "world of Dick and Jane was the idealized image of white, middle-class America." The introduction to the chapter on "Legends," which includes The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, warns that "history has generally been written by the victors and the elites, who tend to view those like themselves—white males, for the most part—as heroes."

In the chapter on "Classical Myths," the editors ponder whether myths are being "kept alive" "by unreflective adults." After all, myths are prone to "strong gender stereotyping—females are passive, males are active.... The protagonists are devoted to a ruthless elimination of the 'other' and to a savagery that is scarcely tolerated" in other children's literature. The genre of domestic fiction—which includes works like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and The Bobbsey Twins—"showcased white middle- or upper-class families." But the editors are happy to report that "the genre has come to reflect ethnic, racial and class diversity." Nor are they above offering advice to would-be authors: "still more change would be welcome here."

Go read the rest.

Somewhere out there, somebody is exposing a six year old child to this rubbish, ensuring that child will grow up a wretched, twisted mass of neuroses and paranoias. I feel anguish for that child. I really do.

Yips! to A.C. Douglas.

Posted by Robert at August 24, 2006 01:00 PM | TrackBack

I know, it's terrible. If it gets any worse, the kids might be exposed to some crazed ideologue parent like this.

Posted by: LB Buddy at August 24, 2006 02:38 PM

Ok, that was disgusting. And only in the Academy (or the UN) is it possible to say with a straight face that "absolute judgments of 'good' and 'evil' are no longer easily made". I think most intelligent people have no problems in making such judgments. At least, I certainly hope so.

Posted by: RP at August 25, 2006 06:14 AM

No, I won't read the rest. I can't blow a gasket too early in the morning. The problem, as I see it, is that literature as a college major/PhD is dead. Everything that needs to be written about it has been written. Yet schools are cranking out more Lit Profs, who need to plow already plowed fields. Thus they have to come up with hare-brained crackpot theories in order to write their dissertations.

Posted by: rbj at August 25, 2006 10:30 AM

I laughed aloud when I read the bit about history being written by the victors..., white males, for the most part..."

And looking back at the history of the world recently (say, over the past 2500 years or so), what do we learn? That when the white males get their asses kicked, either by the Carthagians, the Turkish hordes, the Zulus, the Native Americans, the Japanese (Pearl Harbor), or even other white males (Kasserine Pass), what happens? We get very, very angry. And then we get even, only more so.

I just hope to goodness nobody else figures out that the success of the white male culture is based almost entirely upon successfully implemented revenge over grievances real or imaginary. Don;t tell anyone else, or when they get kicked on their posssibly non-white and possibly non-male asses, they won't stay there.

Posted by: Austin Mikey at August 28, 2006 04:06 PM