From the college course catalog….

Smith CollegeWith a child heading off to college, I’ve decided to start a new feature at my blog. As the spirit moves me, I’m going to quote, verbatim, from college catalogs. I’m not going to go the cheap and easy route of quoting from the Women’s Studies or Queer Studies departments. Instead, I’m interested in what passes for education in the traditional liberal arts: History and English.

Today’s catalog quotation comes from Smith College which, in keeping with all other American colleges, has ditched American History in favor of “American Studies.” This frees colleges from teaching about America’s founding principles or significant events.

Smith doesn’t offer a single traditional American History course. Instead, American Studies is just an endless focus on minutiae, from classes on every type of PC sub-group (black, Native American, disabled, Hispanic), to classes about America’s moral failings (you know what they are), to Mickey Mouse classes purporting to find meaning in pop culture trends.

Here’s my favorite Smith “American Studies” course description:

AMS 310 Performing Deviant Bodies
This course examines how individuals whose bodies deviate from privileged norms in U.S. culture—whether because of race, gender, sexuality or disability—put their bodies on display. We define non-normative embodiment broadly; though, since embodied differences are very often linked to disability in some way, this course heavily discusses embodiment through different conceptions of disablement, health, illness or fitness. We investigate how and why disabled or chronically ill authors so frequently engage theatrical genres, and we look at how their texts function both artistically and politically. The overarching questions that guide our discussions of the course are: How does one move through the world in a body marked as non-normal? How does one perform non-normative embodiment in daily life, or in more traditional performance genres like drama or film? Enrollment limit 15. (E) {A}{H}{S} Credits: 4

Four credits! By the way, the annual tuition for Smith is $46,288.