- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2005

Students are paying an average $21,000 in annual tuition to attend the nation’s colleges, which teach subjects such as the “unbearable whiteness” of Barbie dolls and “same-sex eroticism” in Renaissance Europe.

Those courses — at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Princeton University, respectively — were among the “most bizarre and troubling instances of leftist activism supplanting traditional scholarship” at U.S. colleges and universities named this year to the “Dirty Dozen” list by Young America’s Foundation.

The Herndon-based conservative youth group also singled out for criticism courses such as “Lesbian Novels Since World War II” (Swarthmore), “Marxist Concepts of Racism” (Harvard) and “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ancient Egypt” (Johns Hopkins).

“We researched over 55 courses, and we gleaned 12 of the most outrageous,” YAF spokesman Jason Mattera said Wednesday. “We’ve been doing these lists for a good seven years” to demonstrate what is being taught in contemporary higher education.

Officials at some schools protested that the YAF list includes classes — including the Princeton “same-sex eroticism” course, “The Cultural Production of Early Modern Women,” which was No. 1 among the “Dirty Dozen” — that are not being offered in the current academic year. But school officials said the courses were offered last year or the year before and could be re-offered.

Mr. Mattera defended his group’s selections, saying the descriptions of the courses cited were taken either from the institutions’ Web sites for 2005-06 or from recent articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Marxism, homosexuality and racial theory were recurrent themes in college classes named on the list, which included:

• “The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie: Race and Popular Culture in the United States,” in which students explore ways in which “scientific racism has been put to use in the making of Barbie.” Occidental College made the YAF list twice, with a course called “Stupidity,” which says that “stupidity … makes itself felt in political life ranging from the presidency to Beavis and Butthead.”

• Johns Hopkins’ “rock ‘n’ roll” class about ancient Egypt offered a slide show of Egyptian women “vomiting on each other.”

• In “The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience,” students at the University of California at Los Angeles review “various aspects of lesbian experience,” including “the impact of heterosexism/stigma.”

• Of Harvard’s “Marxist Concepts of Racism,” Mr. Mattera said, “Karl Marx didn’t say much on racism or sexism, but leave it to a left-wing professor to come up with something.”

Other classes named to the list included Amherst College’s “Taking Marx Seriously: Should Marx be given yet another chance?”; Brown University’s “Black Lavender: A Study of Black Gay and Lesbian Plays”; and the University of Michigan’s “Topics of Literary Studies: Ancient Greek/Modern Gay Sexuality.”

Mr. Mattera said it was “very hard” to pick Princeton’s course as No. 1 on the YAF list, “since they are all equally insane.”

The Princeton class, which also examined prostitution and cross-dressing in 16th- and 17th-century England, France, Italy and Spain, was offered in the fall of 2004 and “may or may not be offered in the future, depending on whether a professor is available,” said university spokeswoman Cass Cliatt.

Betsy Bryan, the professor of Egyptian art and architecture at Johns Hopkins who taught the “rock ‘n’ roll” class, said the slide show images are taken from the walls of tombs at an excavation site she and others discovered in Egypt two years ago.

“In this seminar, I look at how music, drinking and sexual activity operated in religion in ancient Egypt,” Ms. Bryan said Wednesday. She said one image students in the class see shows an Egyptian woman sitting at a table and vomiting, after having drunk to excess.

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