We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Thankfully, much is being made of Heather Mac Donald’s recent piece, “The Humanities and Us,” in the City Journal. She illustrates the decline of college English departments, where “gender, sexuality, race, and class” have taken over Chaucer, Milton, and Shakespeare. The radicals of the 60s and 70s are firmly in charge; their diktats have attacked the hallmarks of literary study; and Mac Donald rightly calls for a return to standards at colleges. But standards won’t do any good if incoming freshmen are incapable of reading, thinking independently, and using logic. That has already begun to be the case, and it is going to get worse thanks to new “standards” known as Common Core.
I suspect every state (with the possible exception of some in New England) has a number of smallish, private colleges still maintaining academic standards and shunning politicization. Problems are: 1) these colleges likely wouldn't accept a lot of today's youth, and 2) today's youth want to go to the big schools with famous teams.
I wouldn't worry about this. I went to a big university with national championship football and probably didn't read more than a very few classics.
but because I had little expectations from college I can't be disappointed in it, and my love of reading started when I learned how to read and continues today, college notwithstanding. I read everything, and this house is full of books, from trashy novels to trashy shakespeare.
Why would we want to save the English Department? We got along fine until the 1880s without them. They've done more in the last 50 years to turn people off the classics than anything with their desperate need to find hidden meanings instead of enjoyment in great writings in the masque of "research".
And, there is no reason to believe that a literary theorist/critic is anymore competent to teach writing to students than anyone else.