For generations, colleges have taught classic works of literature by Aristotle, Homer, Plato, Virgil, and other ancient Greek and Roman authors. These works tackle profound issues of morality, justice, and existence, defenders argue, and are essential to understanding the human condition. In recent years, however, critics have charged that reverence for the classics is not only flawed but also enmeshed with long-standing prejudices of race, class, and gender. Indeed, the classics department at Princeton University, one of the nation's most prestigious colleges, recently acknowledged that "the history of our own department bears witness to the place of Classics in the long arc of systemic racism." Classical literature, some contend, has been historically weaponized to justify the power structure of ruling groups, often to the exclusion and disparagement of non-white and non-European cultures. At the very least, they assert, these works should be incorporated within a broader diversity of literature, if not stricken from the required readings altogether. But many express caution at such moves. Studying the classics, they argue, spurs just the sort of critical thinking universities are meant to foster. Great works of literature are meant to spark controversy and debate, they contend, and students from every background can benefit from reading, analyzing, and assessing them. So how does this ancient literature hold up in today's world? Are the classics overrated?
Length: 99 minutes
Copyright date: ©2022