25 October 2007

Required Reading for Freshman Literature at UST

As the definition of chivalry I have posted states, "it is a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic and generous actions and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the moral and intellectual world." Yet when one sees what our young men (and women) are required to read in college literature classes one has to wonder how they will be able to converse with the beautiful and sublime if they are unable to know or recognize what it is.
At the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN all freshmen are required to read the book, The Handmaids Tale. It is not a new book, written some 20 years ago and made into a movie in the early 90's. According to the American Library Association this book was on their list of Most Challenged Books from 1990-2000 because of complaints from students and parents for being anti-religious and containing sexual obscenities. The web site UST Class Action has the plot summary, several graphic quotes and more detail on the matter and is working to prevent it from being required for the Spring semester. I have not read the book but have read several of the reviews for and against and some of the excerpts from it. Ultimately I would oppose this book because it does nothing to elevate the mind toward that which is noble or beautiful so why waste the time and money. Further it doesn't appear to even be well written. It is funny that on the same day I was made aware of the controversy, I received a call from a UST freshman asking me to donate as an alum. I asked her about the book and she said that she actually just finished reading it and now needed to write a report. I don't recall her exact words but the tone in her voice was certainly not positive. That is quite unfortunate since the tuition at UST is about $20K she just spent about $2000 (or her parents did) to waste her time reading a critically acclaimed dime store novel. If I just spent that amount of money on reading a book I would expect my to have a more positive emotion like, "wow that was a great book." There are so many exceptional works of literature and I would like to think that at a Catholic University I could read something that uplifts the soul and draws me closer to God, not darkens it.

No comments:


This blog and the opinions are all my own and in no way imply the endorsement from any organization. Nor does a recommendation of another blog or web site imply my agreement or endorsement of everything found on their site.