Phi Beta Cons

A Degree Signifying Nothing?

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has released a report titled “The Unkindest Cut: Shakespeare in Exile 2015.” According to the report’s author, Dr. Michael Poliakoff, only 4 out of the top 52 liberal arts colleges and universities in the country require English majors to take a course on Shakespeare. 

“If reading Shakespeare is not central to a liberal education, what is? For English majors to miss out is far worse. A degree in English without serious study of Shakespeare is like a major in Greek Literature without the serious study of Homer. It is tantamount to fraud. A department that claims to cover the full span of literature written in English and represent the highest standards of academic study cannot marginalize the writer most honored and beloved in English literary history,” writes Poliakoff. 

The report notes that, while many colleges are giving Shakespeare superficial treatment, trendy courses, and even courses that focus on the works of children’s book authors, are growing in number. As ACTA’s president Anne Neal said in a recent interview, “It’s no wonder that the public is rapidly losing faith in our colleges and universities.”

Jesse Saffron — Jesse Saffron is a writer and editor for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a North Carolina-based think tank dedicated to improving higher education in the Tar ...

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