Published by the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas (founded in 1990 by Mortimer J. Adler and Max Weismann)
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Monday, August 3, 2015

Studying My Friends, 'Dead White Males'

Frank H. Wu, Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law, at the Huffington Post.
"why study the work of "dead white males." In our diverse democracy, that is a threshold query. The liberal arts cannot rightly be reduced to the phrase 'dead white males.' But even those themselves enthusiastic about the endeavor of reading Plato's Republic acknowledge the vulnerability.
[...]
"In replying, I could not improve on the words of W.E.B. DuBois. A 'race man' through and through, among the founders of the NAACP, and the first African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University (the apocryphal story about which confirms as much his erudition as ego), he proclaimed, 'I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not.'

"DuBois pondered the meaning of hyphenated identity before the term was current. He was American and Black, talked about by others in his presence as the 'Negro problem."' Yet he would not have allowed anyone to mark anything worth thinking about as off-limits. He embraced the Western Canon, the Great Books, the cultural heritage others would have denied to him."

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