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Penn students remove Shakespeare portrait from English dept. wall because not “inclusive”

December 14, 2016

From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Bye Bye Bard: A black lesbian poet on the wall is more victimological

From the Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania:

“Penn English professor and Department Chair Jed Esty was surprised to find a large portrait of William Shakespeare waiting in his office.

“A group of students removed the iconic portrait from the walls of Fisher- Bennett Hall and delivered it to Esty’s office after an English Department town hall meeting discussing the election, which took place on Thursday December 1. They replaced it with a photo of Audre Lorde, a black female writer.

“The portrait has resided over the main staircase of Fisher-Bennett — home to Penn’s English Department — for years.”

So Donald Trump insipired the Shakespeare portrait-purge. I didn’t realize that he and the Bard of Stratford-on-Avon had so much in common….

What’s fascinating about the Shakespeare/Lorde switcheroo is that the professors who teach in the Penn English Department didn’t seem to mind in the slightest:

“The English department, in an effort to represent more diversity in writing, voted a few years ago to relocate the portrait and replace it….

“Esty, who declined to be interviewed, said in an email to the Daily Pennsylvanian, ‘Students removed the Shakespeare portrait and delivered it to my office as a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department.’ He added that the image of Lorde will remain until the department reaches a decision about what to do with the space.”

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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One Comment
  1. Lastango permalink

    I side with the students — William Shakespeare is not at all inclusive.

    Reading Shakespeare intelligently requires a background in classic literature, and is helped by an instinct for art and an understanding of the historical and cultural context of Shakespeare’s era.

    So, I’m pleased the students had the good sense to remove the portrait themselves. This spares some scholar of the liberal arts, or perhaps a thespian, the chore of absconding with the portrait so that William Shakespeare should not a moment more suffer the students of the “English” department of the University of Pennsylvania.

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