Salon Attacks Straight, White Novelists

Salon Attacks Straight, White Novelists

The historic contributions of white heterosexuals are under attack again from the left. Salon has a piece genuflecting to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and MIT professor Junot Díaz, based on a New Yorker piece Díaz wrote in which he blasted MFA programs for being overwhelmingly white.

Salon decided to examine the undergraduate classes Díaz teaches at MIT to ascertain exactly how true to the leftist credo he was. The article uses breathless, hyperbolic language to describe what they found.

Salon writes of Díaz’s Cornell experience having “failed him, how he almost dropped out, and how many of MFA students do, in fact, give up because they feel like there’s no room to talk about their specific experiences in the insular literary community: about coloniality, about gender, about race.”

Díaz wrote in the New Yorker essay:

From what I saw the plurality of students and faculty had been educated exclusively in the tradition of writers like William Gaddis, Francine Prose, or Alice Munro–and not at all in the traditions of Toni Morrison, Cherrie Moraga, Maxine Hong-Kingston, Arundhati Roy, Edwidge Danticat, Alice Walker, or Jamaica Kincaid. In my workshop the default subject position of reading and writing–of Literature with a capital L–was white, straight and male.

But the classes Díaz teaches? Listen to Salon:

He teaches two courses within MIT’s Comparative Media Studies/Writing Department, one on fantasy “world-building” and one section of advanced fiction. They both seem too good to be true.

Too good to be true? My goodness, why?

Díaz explained, “I teach classic Gothic texts which are themselves not very diverse by our standards, but the critical lens I deploy helps my students understand how issues of race, gender, coloniality etc. are never far and how these problematics in fact underpin even what what would be considered a ‘white text.'”

Here’s more hyperventilating from Salon:

Sharing just a list of books, he feared, “feels like a shortcut–like throwing out Sterling from the NBA.”

But he agreed that one has to start somewhere. So behold, greatness:

Next Salon shares excerpts from Díaz’s actual syllabus for the course entitled “World Building:”

Description: “This class concerns the design and analysis of imaginary (or constructed) worlds for narrative media such as roleplaying games, films, comics, videogames and literary texts… The class’ primary goal is to help participants create better imaginary worlds – ultimately all our efforts should serve that higher purpose.”

Ah, the Utopian dream of the leftist.

Díaz pontificated to Salon:

If race or gender (or any other important social force) are not part of your interpretive logic–if they’re not part of what you consider the real–then you’re leaving out most of what has made our world our world. This is a long way of saying that it’s not the books you teach, but how you teach them.

The writer of the Salon piece, Prachi Gupta, had already championed a movement started on May 1 to push for more diversity in fiction:

It’s well known that even in 2014, America needs more diversity in, well, pretty much every field imaginable. But the same goes for realms beyond real life: Our fiction is sadly just as dominated by straight white men as the physical world is.

Mr. Dostoevsky, Mr. Tolstoy, Mr. Defoe, Mr. Swift, Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Dickens, Mr. Melville, Mr. Hawthorne, Mr. Twain, Mr. Faulkner, Mr. Hardy, Mr. London, Mr. Hemingway, Mr. Fitzgerald: sit down and shut up.


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