Harvard Offers Course on Poop. Really?
I remember when the word “Harvard” was used as a general term for getting into the best university in the country. It was the de facto choice for inspiring young students to work hard in school: “Don’t you want to get into Harvard?” It was right up there with wanting to be president as far as motivation goes.
After all, seven of our former presidents (including Obama) graduated from Harvard. It must be a place of scholarly thought.
Oh how Harvard has fallen. Liberal universities are increasingly grasping for unique and fresh course selections to set them apart from the rest. Therefore, for the tidy sum of around $5,000 in tuition, you can pop over to Harvard as a part-time student and take a 4 credit hour class on crap. I so wanted this to be a joke, but it isn’t.
H/T Daily Wire
A four-credit course about fecal matter is now something graduate students at Harvard can enroll in.
It literally teaches crap.
The nation’s oldest university, known for its Ivy League credentials, is offering a class called “Cacaphonies: Toward an Excremental Poetics,” where learning about feces in the context of French literature is “taken seriously.” The course also delves into the subject of constipation and whether it is unfairly “gendered” as female.
The course description in the Harvard catalog reads like a parody on academic waste. Here it is in its entirety (formatting adjusted):
French literature, from the Middle Ages to today, has been consistently and remarkably scatological. Fecal matter is omnipresent in works and authors that we consider canonical (e.g. the fabliaux, Rabelais, de Sade, Beckett, Celine) and yet its presence has been remarkably submerged or passed over in readerly and critical reception of modern and contemporary French literature. This course proposes to take this fecal presence seriously and to attend to the things it has to tell us (hence the plurality of cacaphonies) by starting with the following premise: If literature is excrement, then the canon is a chamber pot.
We will focus on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and read a diverse range of scatological texts in order to use the scatological as a means to:
1. Theorize an excremental poetics where excretion provides a model for the process of writing. The task of excretion, which translates into concrete form our experience of the world (we excrete what we take in, processing and giving it new form), is also the task of literature.
2. Allow for a new interrogation and critique of the canon and the ways in which it serves to conceal, contain, sanitize, and compel culture.
3. Provide another angle from which to approach the question of gender and writing, as gender organizes both literature (e.g. the paucity of canonical women writers) and defecation (e.g. the gendering of constipation as a feminine condition).
4. Offer an alternative theory of the significance of fecal matter to the dominant one provided by psychoanalysis (i.e. feces as gift, gold, a la Freud). The goal of the course is to begin to articulate and realize an original approach to literature that, rather than take feces as a site of disgust, takes it as a site of creation.
“Cacaphonies: Toward an Excremental Poetics” will be taught by Annabel Kim, an assistant professor of romance languages and literatures, whose studies and interests include feminist writing and theory. She also teaches a course called “Queer Factions.”
Now, my 12-year-old niece actually had a poop emoji themed birthday party this year, so maybe poop is more important than we give it credit for and Harvard is just that far ahead of us all intellectually. However, I tend to think the school is just full of crap and we’re just finally seeing it.
Going to Harvard used to mean you were the cream of the crop, and Harvard guaranteed you success in life. How is it possiblethat Harvard does not become a complete laughing stock with course offerings like this? But they aren’t the only ones. Check out some other bizarre college courses here.
The next time some snotty elitist announces their degree is from Harvard, feel free to ask them if their sh*t smells because clearly this is an acceptable topic of discussion with these nuts.