The University of Leicester has seen academics resign or cut ties after it removed studies in Medieval English in favour of a “decolonised curriculum”.
The university announced in January its intentions to remove Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowolf — two seminal works of English literature — and replace them with courses focusing on sexuality, diversity, race, and ethnicity.
In response to the leftist assault on yet another aspect of British history, at least two academics have resigned in protest, and a vote of no-confidence has been called.
Professor Isobel Armstrong, a fellow of the British Academy, has also returned her honorary doctorate “in protest at the egregious attack on the integrity of English at Leicester and the attempt to eradicate 1,000+ years of language and literature from the curriculum,” according to The Times.
The woke purge could also see texts from John Milton’s Paradise Lost removed from coursework and the study of poet John Donne and playwright Christopher Marlowe cut back.
A letter from 18 medieval studies fellows at the British Academy, organised by Oxford University Professor Vincent Gillespie, decried the proposed “decolonisation” as having caused “international dismay”.
“The 14th century, at the boundary of modernity, while still concretely medieval, is one of the most remarkable periods in all of literature… How can anyone seriously claim that an English degree wouldn’t be materially impoverished by excluding so much literature?” the letter asks.
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The University and College Union (UCU), one of Britain’s largest academic unions, has called for a vote of no-confidence in the university’s Sri Lanken-born vice-chancellor, Nishan Canagarajah, who is reportedly the driving force behind to push to “decolonise” the curriculum.
The UCU said that the proposed cuts to English literature would infringe upon academic freedom, denigrate the learning atmosphere, and risk the jobs of many academics.
Under the diversity push, some 150 academics could be made redundant across 60 different positions at the university.
Professor Catherine Clarke, who resigned from her post as an external examiner at Leicester, said: “They use the language of sustainability but it’s cost-cutting. It’s an ill-thought-through, knee-jerk decision of which areas to cut. It’s not justifiable. This was never an honest use of the concept of decolonisation, it was being used as a cover.”
In January, Leicester University denied that the cuts in English in favour of a “decolonised curriculum” came as a result of the purged writers being “too white“.
“We want to offer courses that match our students’ own interests and enthusiasms, as reflected in their own choices and the feedback we have been hearing,” the university said.
Leicester University academics have also been central in the National Trust’s ‘Colonial Countryside’ project, which recently drew criticism after it was discovered that Trust staff were being “reverse mentored” by “child advisory boards” who instructed them in the alleged evils of the British Empire.
The leftist project has been spearheaded by Corinne Fowler, Professor of Post-Colonial Literature at the University of Leicester. In September, the ‘Colonial Countryside’ published a Black Lives Matter inspired hit list of 93 National Trust properties, including the home of British wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, for their alleged ties to colonialism and slavery.
During this period in which the university has increasingly “gone woke”, it has fallen from 17th on the Guardian University Guide’s national league tables just a decade ago to a lowly 77th.
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