Enjoyed this excellent open letter: certainly the English Tripos ought to have moved on more from when I studied back in the last century. Sadly I didn’t even take the postcolonial paper, with too many other options in Part Two, and only read a handful of words by Said.
The following letter is the result of a meeting that took place amongst students about the need for the faculty to decolonize its reading lists and incorporate postcolonial thought alongside its existing curriculum:
Dear Peter De Bolla,
For too long, teaching English at Cambridge has encouraged a ‘traditional’ and ‘canonical’ approach that elevates white male authors at the expense of all others. Whilst some have argued that this approach has its merits and there have been welcome attempts to address the absence of women writers, there is more that can be done. What we can no longer ignore, however, is the fact that the curriculum, taken as a whole, risks perpetuating institutional racism. The history of the canon is a history that has wilfully ignored, misrepresented and sidelined authors from the global south. Sadly, the current syllabus is a result of this history; it is…
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