I recently received the schedule of talks for the upcoming International Congress on Medieval Studies, to be held at Western Michigan University (in Kalamazoo) on May 11-14. There are 574 sessions, generally with three papers to be read in each session. I didn’t look at the titles of the papers, but I did look at the titles of the sessions. There were 32 that were in some way or another feminist, 27 that smacked of postmodernism, three on gay-related topics, two on race, and another 12 on general leftist topics. This makes 76 total, which is 13% of all the sessions. Keep in mind that these are just the sessions I am talking about and not the individual papers. A leftist theme can be introduced into any of the papers at a session, so 13% is probably a severe understatement of how much leftism has permeated academia. In addition, there are probably severe penalties for anyone suggesting that the West is best or that Muslims are anything but oppressed. For example, the title of one session is “Remembering the Crusades,” which seems innocuous enough, but the subtitle is “A Representation of Otherness.” In other words, the West is evil because it didn’t respect the “Other,” never mind that Muslims are hardly models as respecters of the “Other.”
Actually, I was rather surprised at how few of the sessions dealt with race and homosexuality as I think the numbers were higher in previous years, but I wasn’t counting before this year, so I don’t know. Then again, there are very few blacks who show up at this conference, while there are quite a few women, so it’s not surprising that feminist themes are so prominent. One of the few blacks who did show up – and I haven’t seen him in a while – is from Africa. (I met him in a pick-up soccer game.) This, too, is in keeping with trends because academia is hungry for blacks, but not many blacks in America value education at all, much less an advanced degree, so there is a higher percentage of foreign blacks in academia than you might expect. Foreign blacks have not been afflicted by the idea that studying hard is “acting white,” so some of them do have the degrees necessary to be successful in academia.
There are some sessions that are probably leftist-free, like those on military themes (and possibly also those on technology themes). One intriguing session is titled “Occult Capitals of Islam,” but I have a feeling that it will be denounced as encapsulating those pernicious ideas of Orientalism since it seems to represent the Muslim world as exotic, and that is evil.
But one topic was of course missing from all the sessions, namely the plight of the poor. Academic leftists no longer have much interest in the poor, since many of them come from wealthy backgrounds. Poverty just means nothing to them. Four years ago I reported (here) on how a big name had condemned this gap in people’s interests, but nothing has changed since then.
If I were young today, I doubt I would go into the humanities. It isn’t very interesting, it’s filled with all kinds of things you can’t say (even though they are true), and it is so dominated by leftists that any perspective other than one approved by the left will be condemned. Who needs it?