Wake Forest Creates ‘Beyond Whiteness’ Program in Classics Department

ATHENS, GREECE - FEBRUARY 19: Replica models of ancient Greek statues on display in a souv
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Wake Forest University recently launched a program called “Beyond Whiteness” that was designed to introduce students to “diverse” perspectives during their study of the Classical languages. The university calls the tendency to focus on white authors, artists, and scholars in the study of the classics as “misleading and damaging.”

According to a report by the College Fix, Wake Forest University is facing scrutiny over a new program called “Beyond Whiteness” which was created in response to the claim that the study of classical language is too focused on white authors, artists, and scholars. The Classics focus on the study of the Greco-Roman world.

The university describes the program as an attempt to counter the university’s tendency to “center ‘whiteness’ in its general curriculum. The program seeks to accomplish this goal by providing students with contributions to the field of the classics by black scholars and artists.

Throughout the 2019–2020 academic year, we aim to provide programming for students, faculty, and the larger Winston-Salem community that examines our field’s misleading and damaging tendency to center “whiteness” in its scholarly and educational practices and charts new paths forward for a more inclusive, constructive vision of the discipline. Our program celebrates the unique pedagogical, scholarly, and artistic contributions of Black Classicists, foregrounds the reception of Classical antiquity by artists and communities of color, highlights recent efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive field, and confronts the hateful backlash (both online and in professional settings) that has targeted those efforts.

Earlier this year, participants in the program read a book entitled Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age. The book focuses on alleged accounts of “misogyny” and “racism” that take place in conversations about Classical languages around the United States.

“A chilling account of trolling, misogyny, racism, and bad history proliferated online by the Alt-Right, bolstered by the apparent authority of Greek and Latin Classics,” one testimonial for the book reads.” The author “makes a persuasive case for why we need a new, more critical, and less comfortable relationship between the ancient and modern worlds in this important and very timely book.”


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