But in the humanities, every day is Fool's Day. These days, the fools are going after Springfield English professor Dennis Gouws. He's being punished for being uncooperative after he was cooperative.
Gouws, a tenured English professor, was asked in 2005 by his department to teach a new course, “Men in Literature.” He liked it and kept on teaching it, eight times between 2005 and 2015. The college approved the course as a regular offering in 2010.Somebody must have been telling lies about Dennis G., because one fine morning he was arrested. And now he is expected to recant or be excommunicated.
But in June 2015, [liberal arts dean Anne] Herzog wrote to him, demanding that he revise the course because an unnamed student had complained about its content because it dealt with men in literature. Since that was the title of the course, the content of the syllabus, and the substance of the class, it is a bit perplexing that Herzog saw merit in the complaint, but so she did.
On March 27, Anne Herzog, the college’s dean of Arts, Sciences, and Professional Studies, wrote a letter to Gouws placing him on “Official Warning Status.” Herzog’s letter proffers a good deal of smug condescension and a small harvest of details, but none of that will explain what is really happening.Yes, I'm mixing my historical references here, but apparently Professor Gouws got in trouble for posting theses to his office door. The Holy Inquisition, Kafkaesque bureaucracies, the Diversity Weenies: of a piece.
But let's see if I understand this. A new course gets through the curriculum committees, and all the other hurdles that stand between conception and catalog language. And it's all for naught once somebody who holds the current Right To Be Offended cards lays down the Queen of Clubs?
If the Victimization Cards are played well outside the usual U.S. News suspects, is it important?
It's important, Peter Wood argues, to call out the petty tyrants at Springfield, because who knows how many academic gulags there are, without the notoriety of a Middlebury, an Oberlin, a Wisconsin, a Yale to keep vigilant eyes on them?
Let me grant immediately that this case has none of the rocket fuel of Middlebury College’s collective assault on Charles Murray and Professor Alison Stanger. Dennis Gouws is a relative nobody (sorry Dennis) at a no-name college (not sorry, Dean Herzog). Trader Joe’s, the trendy grocery chain, playfully offers knock-offs on popular brands, such as “Scandinavian Swimmers” for “Swedish Fish.”Springfield, Scandinavian Swimmer notwithstanding, are in the same business as Middlebury, notes Mr Wood, and committing indoctrination and calling it sensitivity is an error, and it ought be called out.
Our universities are being run by terminally stupid people.