Debating PC

Paul Berman, Editor Laurel Press $10 (338p) ISBN 978-0-440-50466-5
This collection of 21 pieces covers a far broader controversy than that about ``political correctness on campus.'' (Berman, a MacArthur fellow and Tikkun magazine contributing editor, notes that the phrase originated in the 1920s for those communists and fellow travelers who towed the Leninist line.) Most of the pieces focus on the thornier issue of multiculturalism or efforts to ``deconsecrate the Eurocentrism'' (Edward Said) of the ``canon'' of great works studied in the humanities. Almost all of the essays calling for a multicultural curriculum allude to the need for more works by ``people of color'' and women, omitting such white ethnic groups as Italian and Polish Americans and such minority religions as Judaism and Islam. Yet while this volume includes too much superficial polemic and counter-polemic, Berman's excellent introduction is worthwhile, as are Irving Howe's defense of the classical canon and Katha Pollitt's provocative suggestion that the canon question evokes such strong emotions because we all assume that the books read in college are the only books most people will ever read. Enrique Fernandez makes a witty attack on the assumption that writers like Garcia Marquez are ``non-Western.'' (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-0-385-31533-3
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