The Thursday Book Beat: Yale Students Ask for Decolonization of English Lit Curriculum

Hello readers! Summer is here, if the ridiculous humidity is any indication, and I’m starting to dive into some fun light reading to usher in the season. If you’re doing the same, let me know what you’re reading! I also want to extend congratulations to everyone who’s graduating, and wish you lots of lovely books for your free time.

Speaking of school, a rather interesting shift in the English Department at Yale University has the campus and faculty talking. English students have petitioned for updates to the curriculum, asking their professors to “decolonise” their courses and start including writers that aren’t white men. Like many schools and universities, Yale requires its English majors to study classic literature written by famous white male poets. Two semesters are devoted to Shakespeare, Donne, Wordworth, and the like, and while no one is discounting their talent, students are asking for course updates that will “deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism, and ethnicity.” 160 students have signed the petition, while faculty seem to be divided between wanting fresh voices that will expand English literature and sticking to the well-known canon dominated by white men.

Over in Canada, the CBC seems to be taking on that challenge by highlighting 12 books written by indigenous women. While the piece is from August 2015, it’s making the rounds once more, possibly because of conversations around recent Canada Reads nominee Birdie by Tracey Lindberg. The growing number of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada is one of the country’s biggest scars, and we need to tell their stories. This list is a great start.

Finally, this particular news piece took a little time to start trickling onto my feed, but once it did, the buzz was palpable. The first photos of Harry, Ginny, and Albus from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have been released, quickly followed by photos of Ron, Hermione, and their daughter Rose.

Cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Top (L-R): Jamie Parker as Harry Potter, Sam Clemmett as Albus Severus Potter, Poppy Miller as Ginny Weasley
Bottom (L-R): Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger, Paul Thornley as Ron Weasley, Cherrelle Skeete as Rose Granger-Weasley

I’m so delighted by this casting, despite not feeling super enthusiastic quite yet for the play itself. Jamie Parker and Noma Dumezweni are definitely getting me there though! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens in London’s West End on July 30, with previews starting on June 7 and June 9.

Other news tidbits:
Angel Cruz

Angel Cruz

Angel Cruz is a writer and boy band scholar. You can also find her at Book Riot for endless discussion and flailing over all things literature. Ice cream, Broadway musicals, and Arashi are her lifeblood.