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Literature Professor: I Will ‘Purge My Syllabus’ of Offensive Speech

Professor Rob Jenkins writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education, about the extremes he might have to go to to comply with the Department of Education’s broad new definition of sexual harassment. The selections in his intro literature course that might contain offensive sexual material include–Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Wild Nights, Wild Nights!,” by Emily Dickinson, and “Hills Like White Elephants,” by Ernest Hemingway.

Not wanting to sexually harass my students, much less be labeled a sexual harasser by the Department of Education, I have decided to review my Intro to Lit syllabus and remove any reading assignments that might contain offensive material.

Not that any reasonable person would find those reading selections offensive. But the DOE has apparently decided that the “reasonable person” test no longer applies, and that any “unwelcome speech” qualifies as harassment. Since my lit students seem to find nearly everything I say unwelcome, that’s going to make teaching the course a little difficult.

Read the full story here.

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