The University of Chicago’s English department will only consider graduate school applicants interested in “working in and with Black studies” for this upcoming admissions cycle, it has announced.
The department announced the decision in a faculty statement on the department’s homepage, dated July of this year.
In it, the professors stood with the Black Lives Matter movement and those lives lost to police brutality before committing as a staff “to the struggle of Black and Indigenous people, and all racialized and dispossessed people, against inequality and brutality.”
Their decision came alongside an explanation of how racial strife was impacted by the department’s studies.
“English as a discipline has a long history of providing aesthetic rationalizations for colonization, exploitation, extraction, and anti-Blackness. Our discipline is responsible for developing hierarchies of cultural production that have contributed directly to social and systemic determinations of whose lives matter and why.
“And while inroads have been made in terms of acknowledging the centrality of both individual literary works and collective histories of racialized and colonized people, there is still much to do as a discipline and as a department to build a more inclusive and equitable field for describing, studying, and teaching the relationship between aesthetics, representation, inequality, and power,” the statement read.
The department then explained how they planned to enact change, referencing hiring and expanded research plans.
“In light of this historical reality, we believe that undoing persistent, recalcitrant anti-Blackness in our discipline and in our institutions must be the collective responsibility of all faculty, here and elsewhere. In support of this aim, we have been expanding our range of research and teaching through recent hiring, mentorship, and admissions initiatives that have enriched our department with a number of Black scholars and scholars of color who are innovating in the study of the global contours of anti-Blackness and in the equally global project of Black freedom,” the department’s statement continued.
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