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Shakespeare & Beyond

Excerpt - 'The Shakespeare Requirement' by Julie Schumacher

The Shakespeare Requirement cover image
The Shakespeare Requirement cover image

The Shakespeare Requirement cover imageIn this sequel to Dear Committee Members, Julie Schumacher continues her satirical commentary on the humanities in academia.

The protagonist of The Shakespeare Requirement, Jason Fitger, is the newly appointed chair of Payne University’s English department, which faces budget cuts.

As we see in an excerpt from the novel below, Shakespeare becomes a sticking point during an important department meeting discussion: Will the Bard continue to be a required class for English majors at Payne University?

He explained that almost every humanities department had been told to cut back, and that the more modest number of requirements was going to work in their favor. Not just at Payne but across the United States, students were defect­ing in droves from the traditional major in English to newer fields such as “business writing,” “technical communica­tions,” and graphic design. The lower number of credits was an attempt to reverse those defections. It would make the department more attractive to students.

Cassovan’s face was impassive. “And this is our object?” he asked. “To make the study of literature ‘attractive’?”

“I don’t understand your question,” West said. He pointed out that English was competing for students, and for student tuition dollars, with other departments.

Jennifer Brown-Wilson swung her desk around in a half-circle to look at Cassovan. “What exactly are you objecting to?” she asked. “The smaller number of credits? Or some­thing else more specifically?”

Cassovan thanked her for the opportunity to clarify. He was objecting, he said, to the absence in the Statement of Vision of any reference to Shakespeare, and to the attendant lack of clarity regarding the department’s requiring of stu­dents to take at least one semester-long class in that field.

West caught his foot in the metal book rack under his desk. Shakespeare would obviously continue to be taught, he said. It was widely included in the curriculum: Helena Stang had just taught a class on the graphic novel that included a manga version of Macbeth.

Cassovan looked pained rather than pleased at this dis­closure. A casual or passing reference or, even worse, a mod­ern adaptation of the works of the dramatist, he said, could never—

Zander Hesseldine, combing the underside of his beard with his fingers, interrupted. Why should Cassovan’s field be referenced in the SOV when others weren’t? The document made no mention of Postcolonial Literature. Besides, sug­gesting that Shakespeare studies were in jeopardy was like treating the cockroach as an endangered species.


I love Shakespeare and enjoyed your article. Please send me more!

Abby LaVoe — September 12, 2018