[Milton-L] urgent request

Adleen C adleenc at gmail.com
Thu Jul 22 11:33:06 EDT 2010

I am writing to you about a matter that requires urgent action.  Three weeks
ago, the faculty and students of the Centre for Comparative Literature at
the University of Toronto received word that a planning committee
had recommend the centre's dissolution, with the aim of founding a School of
Languages and Literatures. This school would instead focus on the teaching
of various national languages and literatures to be incorporated
into it (Spanish, German, Italian, etc.) This move would effectively sound
the death-knell of Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, as
it would cease to grant degrees after 2011. We, the students and faculty at
the Centre feel strongly that this recommendation is an attack on the
Humanities. Although the departments of English and French thankfully remain
intact, the implication of the university's decision is that a comparative
perspective is no longer valid or necessary, and moreover, that any language
that isn’t officially Canadian (that is to say, anything that isn’t French
or English) is simply too different or unusual to merit study.

As Comparative Literature students, we are of course very concerned about
the preservation of our centre. However, it's important to note the context
in which this move is taking place, and the general threat to
the Humanities posed by recent administrative recommendations, which call
for the dissolution of the East Asian Studies program, as well as the
Centres for Ethics and Diaspora Studies. It seems that the kind of
interdisciplinary research performed by many scholars is under threat.

I am writing to you, Miltonists, because I recognize several statements to
be true: namely, that the kind of research many Early Modernists do is
comparative by necessity, as the context in which authors of the Early
Modern period were writing was in many ways a pan-European one. This is
doubly true for an author such as Milton, whose vast learning encompassed
several languages and literary traditions. Indeed, many of the students at
Comparative Literature work on Early Modern projects, including one focusing
on Milton. Finally, the students of Comparative Literature are concerned
about the threat the new measures pose to the late critic Northrop Frye’s
legacy, as the Centre, which he founded, remains dedicated to promoting his
comparative projects, through the Northrop Frye professorship and lectures,
amongst other initiatives.

 We, the graduate students of Comparative Literature, request your help in
our cause. What can you do to help? First, please sign our *petition*. A
diverse array of well-known academics and writers, ranging from Stanley Fish
to Julia Kristeva to Margaret Atwood, has made their support of our cause
known by signing the petition. Over the past several days, our petition has
received 5,100 signatures.  Secondly, we urge all supporters to send a *
letter* to the Dean, Meric Gertler, and our President, David Naylor. The
President appears to be watching the situation with interest but is waiting
to intervene until either the fall semester or until the public outcry is
too loud to ignore. The President actually has read many protest emails, and
is responding to them individually. The link below contains the Dean’s and
President’s contact information.  Our website also contains links to the
various newspaper articles that have covered our campaign.

Thank you for your support. I encourage you to email me with any questions
or suggestions. Your help is very much appreciated.

Sincerely yours,

Adleen Crapo
President, Comparative Literature Student Course Union
PhD2, University of Toronto
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