8.0316 Classical Tradition in English Literature (1/46)

Thu, 17 Nov 1994 18:40:47 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 8, No. 0316. Thursday, 17 Nov 1994.

Date: Sun, 6 Nov 1994 11:37:36 -0600 (CST)
From: "John R. Porter" <porterj@herald.usask.ca>
Subject: The Classical Tradition in English Literature

There is increasing concern among Classicists these days regarding the
future of our discipline. In an attempt to build some bridges the
Department of Classics here at the University of Saskatchewan has proposed
a joint undergraduate major in Classics and English, a four year degree in
"The Classical Tradition in English Literature", with a minimum
requirement of 30 credit units (5 full-year courses) in each discipline,
including at least one senior special studies course devoted to the
student's particular field or author of specialization. The design of such
a major is a tricky matter since it requires accommodating students whose
interests (on the English side) range from Beowulf to 20th century
literature. Our fundamental difficulty, however, concerns the potential
worth of such a major beyond general edification or as a useful degree for
potential public school teachers (both of which deserve to be taken
seriously). The average student who was a product of such a program
probably would not have sufficient grounding in the languages to enter a
graduate program in Classics. How would such a student be likely to fare
in applying to graduate programs in English or Comparative Literature?
(I.e., would they be spread too thinly? We assume, of course, as with any
major that those who are more serious would go beyond the minimum
requirements. On the other hand, the program is unlikely to attract
students if too many additional courses are required for them to proceed
to graduate studies.)

Is such a program intellectually sound in the first place (given the
limited amount of language and the fact that it does not address other
influences on the English tradition)? If intellectually sound, is it
simply too out of tune with the temper of our times (the DWEM factor):
i.e., would it be a help or a hindrance in applying for grad studies?
Finally, if the program is thought to be viable, do others on the list
have advice regarding its design? We are assuming that a fair proportion
of students who opted for this program would be serious about continuing
beyond the undergraduate level. It is important, therefore, that we make
some attempt to insure that we are not leading them down a blind alley. I
would appreciate any and all responses (positive and negative) off list
and will be happy to report on the results if others on the list are

John Porter
Dept. of Classics
Univ. of Saskatchewan