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Response to: “Please Don’t Take This FC: In Remembrance Of Great Books, Fall 2018”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

The following piece is in response to “Please Don’t Take This FC: In Remembrance Of Great Books, Fall 2018” by Rhea Thomson

Dear Foundation Course Students:

I don’t like you.

In the English language you can either indicate second-person singular or plural. Rest assured, I dislike you whether you identify as singular or plural.

As a professor, the experience of teaching Foundation Courses has been foundational in the most literal sense of the word. It represents the very bottom of the academic ladder in the same way that the Marianas trench is at the very bottom of the ocean floor, and equally devoid of intelligent life. So, dear reader, how did this naïve professor get lured into bringing light into this ocean of intellectual darkness? Simple.


Theoretically, the FCs were going to be an easy way to subsidize my lavish collection of memorabilia from the “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Picture this, if you will. I would tell a compliant group of unread eighteen-year-olds about the classics of Western civilization. Western civilization being so self-evidently good that they, struck in awe, would hang on my every weighty and sagacious word like a kitten clasping a branch in one of those inspirational classroom posters. So yes, easy money, since I imagined that all it would entail would be dispassionate shouting about the Bible and multiple-choice quizzes about ethics. I fashioned myself something of a young Thomas Macaulay, without the mutton chops, but with equally suspect ethics.

This divine plan was blown off course before we barely set sail from the windy plains of Troy. To my great disappointment, many students actually did the reading. One of the secrets of running a great class is assigning long, difficult texts students won’t read. Without anyone in the room to challenge you, you can pretty much say anything, and simultaneously act indignant because no one did the reading. Saying things without too much thought and acting indignant at the youths are two of the core competencies of adulthood. Semester after semester, this time-tested formula would be foiled by irritating bookish types who wasted class time critiquing The Critique of Pure Reason, vindicating the rights of women, and, in general, spending too much time in a room of their own.

As I tried to plow authoritatively through the lecture notes I had written years ago, their insolent, anxious questions were like so many bunnies scurrying helter-skelter in front of my furrowing blade. From doubts about the neat distinction between orality and literature, to suggesting that the European theory of modernization was a useful pretext for colonization, I would constantly have to pause to remind them that history does not have a suggestion box, only objective facts. The worst – and I’m sure I’ll get @cancelled by the wake mob for saying this – the worst were the lady students with their constant challenges of the Patriarchy, the male gaze, and gender “constructs.” I believe it was Jordan Peterson who said, “Females should vote right and swipe right…or is it swipe left? I’m not sure anymore. I got kicked off of every dating app years ago for catfishing.” Actually, come to think of it, pretty much all of the students seemed unconcerned with maintaining the natural distinctions between ladies and lads, or, really, any type of distinctions. I mean, how can we have an informed discussion about universal European truths, if everyone wants to be part of the conversation?

To cap it all off, in my never-ending battle to burnish the canon, stop the clasting of icons, and deliquefy identities, I got to know their names and faces. Their unseasonable youth and optimism reminded me that FC students are sentient, almost human; even the freshmen. Realizing that I was making money by shouting at students who were genuinely intellectually curious about the world has made backstroking, Scrooge McDuck-style, in my vast oceans of wealth seem somehow unseemly. Unseemly, but not prohibitively so, because, with all the current bad press around shooting endangered species and using their body parts for interior design accents, maintaining the precious ivory in my tower has become a real financial burden. Besides there is always the next FC, where I will assign more reading, expect more writing, and deliver lectures so droning some rogue state will offer me a defense contract. Only the most mediocre minds need apply, and only the most apathetic will succeed, all others will be scorned.

Joost B. (last name redacted to preserve anonymity)

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