Phi Beta Cons

Mark Bauerlein on the “Coming Ideological Takeover of Music”

One person who read and took account of the Pope Center’s recent three-essay series on musical education is Professor Mark Bauerlein, who has penned a sharp piece on Minding the Campus. He fears that the diversity zealots will engineer the same sort of capture of the music curriculum that they have pulled off in his field, English.

Bauerlein calls out the “moral puffery” of the “change manifesto” that the activists are pushing. He can’t stand such nonsense as the assertion that continued emphasis on the European classical repertory is somehow “a denial of genuine global artistic identity” and “a hindrance to responsible citizenship.” Responding to that blather, he writes, “Reading these sentences is a dreary process. There are no surprises along the way, the progressive agenda so scripted and witless that anybody can rehearse it. Successful academics have learned how to play this game very well.”

Perfectly exemplifying the decline and fall of academic integrity is a woman who has been chosen to head up a university music school. She appears to have no true musical accomplishments, which don’t count any more. “Instead, we have the race-gender-sexuality dance, along with a testament of her activism….The language is so worn and cliched that you can’t even satirize it.”

Even if you can’t play a Bach fugue, you can now rise in academia by denouncing the old-fashioned, oppressive emphasis on learning to play them.

Will this make music departments more appealing? Bauerlein thinks not. “They should look at English and see if relevance and diversity turns have made the discipline more popular and prestigious.”


George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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