The University of Chicago English department will only admit graduate students working “in and with Black Studies.”

If you are applying to graduate school in English and do not want to study anything other than Black Studies, you shouldn’t waste your time on an application to the University of Chicago. Here is an announcement on the department’s website:

The English department at the University of Chicago believes that Black Lives Matter, and that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks matter, as do thousands of others named and unnamed who have been subject to police violence. As literary scholars, we attend to the histories, atmospheres, and scenes of anti-Black racism and racial violence in the United States and across the world. We are committed to the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialized and dispossessed people, against inequality and brutality.

For the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle, the University of Chicago English Department is accepting only applicants interested in working in and with Black Studies. We understand Black Studies to be a capacious intellectual project that spans a variety of methodological approaches, fields, geographical areas, languages, and time periods. For more information on faculty and current graduate students in this area, please visit our Black Studies page.   

Read the rest here.

I am a bit surprised that the University of Chicago, a school known for its commitment to open inquiry, chose to go in this direction.

While I am committed to intellectual diversity, I don’t have strong feelings either way about this decision. To make an informed comment on this news story I would need to know more about the history and current make-up of the University of Chicago English department.

I will, however, say this: In our current moment it is important that research universities show their commitment to the African-American experience. If the University of Chicago believes that bringing in one class of students working in Black Studies as a way of addressing this moment, I don’t have a problem with it. I hope this decision contributes to the university’s ongoing commitment to intellectual diversity.

Why Do We Try Not to End Sentences with a Preposition?

Kneller, Godfrey, 1646-1723; John Dryden (1631-1700), Playwright, Poet Laureate and Critic

It all goes back to 17th-century English writer John Dryen.

Here is a taste of Dan Nosowitz‘s piece at Atlas Obscura:

Dryden twice stated an opposition to preposition stranding. In an afterword for one of his own plays, he criticized Ben Jonson for doing this, saying: “The preposition in the end of the sentence; a common fault with him, and which I have but lately observed in my own writing.” Later, in a letter to a young writer who had asked for advice, he wrote: “In the correctness of the English I remember I hinted somewhat of concludding [sic] your sentences with prepositions or conjunctions sometimes, which is not elegant, as in your first sentence.”

Dryden does not state why he finds this to be “not elegant.” And yet somehow this completely unexplained, tiny criticism, buried in his mountain of works, lodged itself in the grammarian mind, and continued to be taught for hundreds of years later. This casual little comment would arguably be Dryden’s most enduring creation. It’s a little bit sad.

Read the entire piece here.