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Agitprop Scholarship At DePauw

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A reader writes to comment on my piece about the race madness and the ideological corruption of DePauw University [1]:

Hi Rod – thank you for excellent coverage on the ridiculousness going on at DePauw. As an alum, I am dismayed at the lack of leadership from the administration and faculty. I have three kids that will be going to college soon, and DePauw will NOT be a school that we will be visiting. It has turned into a shell of what it was 25 years ago. It used to be a place where students parents and grandparents went there. Now I’m hard-pressed to find any alum who would encourage anyone, much less their own children, to attend. …

Attached is an email that was sent yesterday from a faculty member. I weep for the state of higher education at DePauw and other Universities in our country

[reader’s name]

From: Alicia Suarez<[(deleted)@depauw.edu>
Date: Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 1:49 PM
Subject: Queer Comics and Activism: Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Post doctoral candidate
To: facultystaff <[email protected]>

Dear colleagues, this is a reminder of the WGSS Post-doctoral candidate’s mock class on Wednesday, April 25 at 4pm in AH 222. She will be teaching an Introduction to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies class focused on queer comics and activism.
Please consider attending.
Many thanks,

Seems to me that every class on Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies is, at some fundamental level, a class focused on queer comics and activism, if you take my meaning.

Can you imagine having devoted so many years of your life to academic study, and reaching the day when you, as a postdoc, teach a class that’s an introduction to your field … and your topic is gay cartooning as agitprop. It’s as if a serious Christian college trotted out a postdoc to deliver a solemn lecture on the evangelical semiotics of Jot.  [2]

Yep, we’re sure going to miss the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies department at DePauw [3] when it’s gone.

9 Comments (Open | Close)

9 Comments To "Agitprop Scholarship At DePauw"

#1 Comment By Major Wootton On April 24, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

Conversely, my feminist colleague referred to a standard list of canonical British and American literature — Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Jane Austen, et al. — as “white male patriarchy.”

One may sometimes wonder if literature has ever really happened, in the lives of academic like her.

#2 Comment By Adamant On April 24, 2018 @ 12:15 pm

I would 100% read a ‘non-binary / intersectional gay Batman’ series. The Pink Caped Crusader stalking the streets and handing out beatings on the insufficiently woke? Yes please: it couldn’t be any more absurd than what we have now.

#3 Comment By Franklin Evans On April 24, 2018 @ 12:30 pm


Your sarcasm aimed at the course promotion is sadly misplaced. Comics are a recognized and closely studied medium, and a perennial and fertile source for discussions of agitprop. That such studies focus on some sub-topical level — like the course title shows — is par for the course, as it were.

I’ve refrained from direct comments on this and the other threads focused on DePauw (and other colleges) for a simple reason: Our local exemplar of the correct way to approach higher education for our children is Erin Manning, whose exceptions to the rules — get your child into the place that will best promote their future earnings, or open doors for them — serve as the cautionary advice I followed and offer to any parent agonizing over the college decision. In short: if college is only and ever about future earnings, the numbers make that decision easy. Years of debt, for the student and the parents, profit only the agencies who loaned the money.

Personal story: our youngest, H, is a gifted artist. We encouraged her development of her gift at every opportunity. As she was finishing 8th grade, and we were discussing her choice of high school, she shocked all of us by not choosing the school for creative and performing arts. When we questioned her about it, I offer her response as close to verbatim as I can remember it.

“I can get art anywhere. You taught me that. I want everything else, too.”

H is as well-rounded, well-educated and well-aware of the wider world as I could ever hope he to be. She’s not making gobs of money. She is contributing to her community in valuable ways beyond any measurement in dollars. That should be our ambitions for our children.

#4 Comment By Al Bundy On April 24, 2018 @ 12:36 pm

Well, what else are the low achieving students going to study? Physics? Ancient Greek?

#5 Comment By JonF On April 24, 2018 @ 12:54 pm

Franklin, my congrats on your having raised a most sensible 8th grader– a phase in life not generally known for maturity and common sense.

#6 Comment By Jonah R. On April 24, 2018 @ 1:08 pm

Franklin, my hunch is that these days, comics are far more studied than read. There’s a website called Comichron that charts monthly comics sales to comics shops, and it’s rather startling. The biggest-selling comic last month (“Dark Nights Metal” by DC Comics) sold only 187,000 copies. Most big-name, mainstream comics sold under 30,000 copies. For all the hype about the “Black Panther” movie, only 24,000 copies of the comic sold last month. Those numbers may be under-reported, but not by terribly much.

People love superheroes in movies, and literary types like to focus on certain boutique graphic novels, but relative to their influence at this moment in history, comics are probably one of the most preposterously over-studied subjects in all of academia.

#7 Comment By Franklin Evans On April 24, 2018 @ 3:01 pm

Jon: H, being the youngest of three, had the benefit of older siblings who were not tyrannical, and parents who had already made mistakes and learned from them. 😉

Jonah: I can’t cite the information, though it shouldn’t be difficult to find, but movies (especially the Marvel franchises) are keeping the print versions going, not the other way around, and that’s financial rather than in boosting sales. Comics like all of print media are suffering from the Internet. That they are also art is both interesting and an advantage for them.

There are some, I’m sure, who agree with you about comics being “over-studied”. I view it as a sort of morbid fascination. Comics are the most accessible medium in which one may find social commentary, some of it at the level of Huxley, Orwell and C.S. Lewis. It deserves study, in my opinion, though like anything else it can be exaggerated into obscurity.

According to the comics geeks of my acquaintance, graphic novels are comics, and not to be considered as separate. I just shrug, listen, and read the gems they point out to me.

#8 Comment By Duane On April 24, 2018 @ 7:29 pm

DePauw has long lost its way. I would encourage all parents to keep their children out of the clutches of its lousy and looser faculty.

#9 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 24, 2018 @ 8:32 pm

She will be teaching an Introduction to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies class focused on queer comics and activism.

Sounds comical. I infer that Batman is the new paradigm of the patriarchy.

Jane Austen as “white male patriarchy”? The female author who featured women who tamed male shrews?