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According to The Telegraph, the University of Salford is planning to remove sonnets from its Creative Writing program.  The reason? They are “products of white western culture” and the University of Salford has an initiative to “decolonise the curriculum.” (A version without paywall can be found here.)

The Society of Classical Poets reached out to the University of Salford but has received no response. 

The Telegraph article by Craig Simpson ends with a conspicuous error:

“The Shakespearean form is usually made up of sixteen lines, with three sets of alternatively rhymed quatrains, followed by a couplet. It was often used to express romantic themes.”

Sixteen? Everyone who has learned basic knowledge about a sonnet knows they are usually fourteen lines—and this definitely applies to the Shakespearean sonnet. Perhaps removing the fourteen-line sonnet from the curriculum may not be such a great idea given the limited knowledge of The Telegraph‘s writer and editors. 

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25 Responses

  1. James Sale

    It is beyond parody; every one of these lecturers, PHDs and professors should be sacked since they clearly know absolutely nothing about literature or even creative writing, for if they did they would not propose such a thing. Why are they being paid and tenured for doing the job they are not doing?

    Reply
  2. JGS

    Oh dear God. Isn’t that what’s called historical revisionism? Even if there is disagreement, what happened to the idea that we can learn from history, let alone creative literature? PC run amok, and that is not the solution.

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Maybe we should be having a sigh of relief: what would you say to a math department that insisted 4 + 4 = 9, or that insisted that the zero was useless?
      James, I’ve wondered most of my life about people getting paid for what they do. (Prominent example: the current occupant of the White House.) These “scolars” at Salford are yet another case in point.

      Reply
  3. Paul Freeman

    I just read what I believe is the original university article (See above and click where it says ‘A version without paywall can be found here’), and it’s semi-literate drivel.

    How the Telegraph managed to transcribe and translate the original article, I don’t know.

    For me, the saddest aspect of this affair is that people with an infantile grasp of the English language seem to be driving the agenda at universities such as this.

    Or maybe it’s just a cynical attempt at headline grabbing.

    Sad!

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Paul, I clicked on the original announcement as you suggested. It is so abominably ungrammatical and semi-literate that I can only imagine it was put up as a satire. Maybe this whole thing is a joke?

      Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    “The University of Salford”? Is that one of the great centers of Western scholarship and erudition? Another Oxford, Sorbonne, or Salamanca?

    Or is it one of the horrid red-brick atrocities located in what Brits call “the shires”? Is it like the typical “Bible-and-Agricultural Institute” that one finds in the American alfalfa belt?

    This laughable crap about “decolonizing” the curriculum is very common in tenth-rate colleges run by deeply defensive persons, who are generally desperate to do things that they think will make them seem au courant with the practices of Ivy League schools.

    Reply
  5. Joshua C. Frank

    I think the stuff about fighting racism is just an excuse. Poetry (the real stuff like what we write, not the rambling garbage that gets published today) strengthens the mind against assimilation into the consumerist, Leftist collective, and that’s what they hate about it.

    Reply
  6. Mo

    Not only is this shameful, it smacks of ignorance! Sixteen lines!!! I love it when the ignorant expose themselves.

    Reply
  7. Lannie David Brockstein

    As e-mail has made paper mail obsolete, as online ſtreaming has made DVDs obsolete, as non-inflationary decentralized cryptocurrencies have made government fiat obsolete, so too has connecting via the internet with knowledgeable minds and wise souls made universities obsolete.

    Reply
  8. Brian Yapko

    Absurd and not only racist in the extreme but delusional. So much of critical race theory is built on the premise that Western Culture is intrinsically white supremacist by its very nature and that is the false premise upon which this whole woke house of cards is built. Western Culture happens to be the culture that “got there first” whether it’s in terms of world exploration, science, art, music or literature. To deny that is for them to turn their backs on reality — something which never ends well. Would they erase Monteverdi from music or Galileo from science? Don’t answer that. But in the end, erasing Western Cultural achievement is a vicious and doomed answer. You don’t fit more people at the table by smashing it to bits. You build a bigger table.

    Reply
  9. James A. Tweedie

    Hahahahahahahahaha! The biggest laugh I have had for ages!

    “How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished.” I Samuel 1:17

    With Shakespeare banished with the stroke of a pen, the feeble minds that came up with this hilarious, self-righteous and self-imploding declaration have also banned a vast swath of the finest accomplishments of the African-American literary heritage. Consider this review of “The African American Sonnet: A Literary History,” by Timo Mueller

    “Some of the best known African American poems are sonnets: Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die,” Countee Cullen’s “Yet Do I Marvel,” Gwendolyn Brooks’s “First fight. Then fiddle.” Yet few readers realize that these poems are part of a rich tradition that formed after the Civil War and comprises more than a thousand sonnets by African American poets. Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Margaret Walker, and Rita Dove all wrote sonnets.

    “Based on extensive archival research, The African American Sonnet: A Literary History traces this forgotten tradition from the nineteenth century to the present. Timo Müller uses sonnets to open up fresh perspectives on African American literary history. He examines the struggle over the legacy of the Civil War, the trajectories of Harlem Renaissance protest, the tensions between folk art and transnational perspectives in the thirties, the vernacular modernism of the postwar period, the cultural nationalism of the Black Arts movement, and disruptive strategies of recent experimental poetry.

    “In this book, Müller examines the inventive strategies African American poets devised to occupy and reshape a form overwhelmingly associated with Europe. In the tightly circumscribed space of sonnets, these poets mounted evocative challenges to the discursive and material boundaries they confronted.” https://muse.jhu.edu/book/60667

    Imagine that! People of Color using sonnets as “evocative challenges” and “disruptive strategies . . . to occupy and reshape a form overwhelmingly associated with Europe.” In short, the sonnet as an African American “weapon of war.” Now banished by self-congratulatory ignorance.

    Reply
    • Paul A. Freeman

      The Claude McKay and Gwendolyn Brooks sonnets are a very powerful poems about fighting for your rights.

      Thanks for pointing me to them, James.

      Reply
  10. Sally Cook

    I thought it was and is a joke as well. And I will cotinue to think so.
    An illiterate, silly, cruel jokieJ

    ust letting the you all know, there will continue to be 14 liners forthcoming from this corner of the world for as long as I draw breath. Period.

    Asininity knows no bounds.

    Reply
  11. Lannie David Brockstein

    If everything about “white Western tradition” should be sidelined, then surely universities themselves should be sidelined, because universities are also a part of “white Western tradition”. Furthermore, for hundreds of years, the earliest university professors were Christian monks and nuns.

    Reply
  12. Joseph S. Salemi

    When people start to realize (including out so-called liberal “friends”) that we are facing a very conscious anti-European, anti-white racist attack, we might be able to prepare a serious counterattack. But when our liberal “friends” talk glibly about “the sonnet as an African-American ‘weapon of war,'” we’re not going to get anywhere.

    With allies like this, we don’t need enemies.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Stop it, Joe. I could say the sky is blue and you would accuse me of being a left-wing “Kum-ba-yah” wimp.

      You are a smart man and you should be able to recognize the irony in my comment as I pointed out that by erasing the sonnet form they are canceling a significant corpus of the non-white literary culture they think they are redeeming.

      As for “friends,” maybe you are accustomed to referring to your friends’ behavior as “self-congratulatory ignorance,” but I most certainly do not.

      As for the “weapon of war” phrase it has multiple meanings, one of the most obvious being “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Poetry as a weapon is available for anyone to wield as such, including you, or me, or the African-American poets cited in my comment. How can you argue against that? But you do so by twisting its clear intent into a tangled knot.

      The phrase “weapons of war” is also clearly referential to my opening citation from 1 Samuel 1:17. With the parallel being that by banning the sonnet, the so-called university is not only attempting to slay the “mighty” giants of literature such as Spencer, Shakespeare and Milton, but to diminish the power of both their poetry and the heights of Western Culture they represent.

      It is said that Lincoln claimed to turn his enemies into his friends. You, however, seem intent on turning a friend into an enemy.

      No matter how loud or how often you persist is doing so, I will not take the bait. We are allies, you and I. And, in spite of you insisting otherwise, I am not your enemy.

      Reply
      • Paul Freeman

        The biggest irony is that the original article is semi-literate gobbledygook written by a small group of students, probably trying to impress their peers and professors – as young college students often do.

        The article seems to have been taken up and edited (translated) by the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail in an effort to stir the pot, which they’ve successfully managed to do.

        This view on sonnets (a blanket reference to metrical rhyming poetry, I imagine) is being espoused by a minority of minority students, in a middle-ranking (if that) university for their fifteen minutes of fame. Sadly, it’s getting more oxygen than it should get.

      • Paul Freeman

        Thanks for pointing that out, Mike. I hate to be even more of a cynic, but it could be that students and lecturers find it too much of an effort, or too difficult and time consuming to teach and write sonnets when there are easier options out there.

        The same with literature. Who wants to read Thomas Hardy when you can choose a book from the curriculum that’s half the number of pages and easier to understand.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Dear James —

        I sincerely apologize to you. I spoke in great anger, and certainly without considering your feelings. You should not have been my target — Timo Mueller should have been.

        The main point that I was trying to make is that right now, in the West, we are in the midst of a very deliberate and carefully planned anti-white genocide (which is taking place, slowly but steadily, on all fronts: cultural, literary, religious, and physical.) One can call it the Great Replacement or whatever else one pleases, but it is REAL and ONGOING and EFFECTIVE. Denying it is irrational.

        If I have any argument with you, it is not personal. It is with liberalism itself, which frequently fails to recognize when a war is taking place, and tries to always think the best of those on the other side who are waging war against us, even when they are using our own weapons.

        Once more, I am sorry and I offer my sincere apology to you for my offending post. It will not happen again.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      It’s true “that we are facing a very conscious anti-European, anti-white racist attack,” but I don’t think that’s anywhere near as much of a problem as the fact that we’re giving in without a fight by losing our collective will to live as a culture. All the things we do to avoid reproducing, for one: contraception, late marriage (or forgoing it altogether!), abortion, homosexuality… the list goes on. We get our hackles up when the world preaches that white lives don’t matter, but our own lifestyles scream this so loudly, I can barely hear the barbarians at the gates. Dostoyevsky was spot on: “The West has lost Christ and that is why it is dying. There is no other reason.”

      Reply
  13. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    This sickens me to my core. I want to say I’m speechless, but I’m not. I will reply poetically and aptly… when I’m ready. The first thought that springs to mind is the reason for this is there is no one left to teach the wonders of historic literature… language has been dumbed down to such an extent, the latest “tutors” are illiterate. Perhaps I am too angry to respond rationally right now… watch this space. The universities of my home country are a disgrace.

    Reply
  14. Mia

    Apologies in advance for this attempt at humour as I know this is a very serious topic but intelligence or reason are not making much difference to the current state of affairs so we have to try and laugh before we cry. Besides, this is all I seem to be capable of, shameful really.

    There once was a professor of creative writing
    who was tired of his students’ whining,
    he didn’t have the knowledge and the time
    to teach a catch-up for their lack of rhyme
    ( and proficiency in the English Language)
    so in mitigation he went for decolonisation
    and although not half as good as colonic irrigation
    it brought some relief from having to put any graft in!

    graft or craft? what do you think. On second thoughts maybe I shouldn’t ask…

    Reply
  15. Mia

    I felt I had to try something else after my last attempt.
    By way of explanation. There are good days and bad days!

    To see or not to see
    That is the ferris wheel
    We are on.
    Whether it is kinder
    To the heart to close
    The eyes to ceaseless turmoil
    Or to stand up and shout,
    Only to be ridiculed,
    Laughed at and disdained
    When we have thrown caution
    To the winds, does always
    Grind us to a halt.
    How then can we shoulder
    The distress of seeing
    A palace torn to shreds
    And priceless works of art
    Discarded and trampled
    Underfoot by those who
    Wish to bring civilisation to
    A close just because
    The light ’s too bright.
    To see or not to see
    Is not the question, for
    The mind demands to know
    And be and whilst the heart
    Beats the music beckons
    To those who have ears to hear
    And a song to sing.

    Reply

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