NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Shakespeare, Classics, Left Out Of College Classes

May 31, 2000

According to a new report, books by Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston are more likely to be required reading for college undergraduates than works by Mark Twain or Edgar Allen Poe. The study by the National Association of Scholars showed that only a few colleges required students to take courses emphasizing broad periods, the greatest writers or the most important literary genres. The study found:

  • Shakespeare courses were required by 48 percent of departments in 1964-65 but only 16 percent in 1997-98.
  • Courses involving racial, ethnic or sexual topics were negligible in 1964-65 but proliferate now.
  • Among living writers, female writers are more popular than male writers.
  • Contemporary American writers have virtually crowded British writers out of the curriculum.

The NAS study looked at course requirements of English departments at 25 liberal arts institutions.

Source: Life, "Scholars Group Attacks Bard's Campus Absence," USA Today, May 31, 2000.


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