which no consideration for things-asthey-are-and-have-beennshould benallowed to prevail. The sense of embattlementndoubtless accounts for much ofntheir unwillingness seriously to addressnthe responsibilities of running the world.nTheir mission is to transform it. Now.nLike other zealots, they impatientlynreject inherited niceties, including freedomnof speech. The oppression ofnwomen has been such that the strugglenagainst it justifies extreme methods.nThe weak, who are not bound by thenobligations of the strong, are morallynjustified in giving no quarter.nTypically, proponents of women’snstudies resolutely insist on combatingnhierarchy in all its forms. The classroomnbecomes the laboratory for a new systemnof social relations. With the authoritynof received knowledge suspect, thenauthority of the professor (presumablynjustified by knowledge) becomes arbitrary.nA wholesome classroom mustnbecome an open space in which studentsnand professors alike share insights.nIn this atmosphere, the goal of teachingnbecomes to “empower” students to findnand express their own voices, to makenexplicit their own silences. Unfortunately,nthis purported openness rarelynallows equal time for the opposingnviews of women as well as men. With sonmuch at stake, tolerance for oppositionnis reduced to a dangerous luxury. Thatnall of this sounds a good deal like angeneral radical tendency in the academynonly makes it the more dangerous.nFor notwithstanding the persistingnobstacles to funding and credibility, itndoes converge with a powerful antiauthoritarianntendency in society andnculture at large.nWomen’s studies began more modestlynwith the simple determination tonrestore women to the curriculum andnthe canon. In its initial stages, women’snstudies would probably have settled fornthe inclusion of (accomplished) womennauthors in literature courses and somenresponsible attention to women in historyncourses. These goals reflected twonserious concerns: first, that the curriculumnand canon had been fashioned toninvite the identification of the youngnmen who were to inherit leadership ofnthe worlds of business, law, and politics,nand, accordingly, emphasized male narrativesnand virtues; second, that evennwithin that framework women’s accomplishmentsnand contributions had beennsystematically devalued if not entirelynignored. The project modestly to revisenour inherited tradition so that it simultaneouslyninvited women’s identificationnwith it and helped to prepare womennfor positions of power and responsibilitynhad indisputable merit. Since todaynmost women must contribute to, if notnentirely assure, their own livelihoods;nsince, in many instances, young womenncomprise half (at places like the Universitynof North Carolina at Chapel Hill,nmore than half) the undergraduate populationnand deserve as good a return onntheir parents’ substantial investment asnyoung men; and since our nation badlynneeds young women’s professional contributions,nnot to engage young women’snidentification with our publicnpurposes seems exorbitantly wasteful.nMy experience of directing a women’snstudies program at Emory hasnsteadily deepened my conviction thatnwomen’s studies offers young womennjust such opportunities to take possessionnof their own educations. Emorynundergraduates did not initially embracenwomen’s studies, but those whonhave passed through the introductoryncourses during the last few years havenderived important strengths from them.nOne of my students wrote in her finalnpaper — a comprehensive review of thenfifteen demanding books she had readnduring the semester—that she had begunnwith a deep mistrust of feminism,nwhich she equated with “bra-burning,”n”lesbianism,” and anger. “Today,” shenconcluded, “as I turn in my last paper, Inconsider myself a feminist. Maybe notnan active feminist, but a definite proponentnof feminism.” The course, shenavowed, had ofi’ered her a rare educationalnexperience. “Although I am al­nways academically challenged by mynclasses at Emory, rarely have I evernbeen personally challenged. Not onlynhas my definition and attitude towardsnfeminism matured and changed fromnwhat I have learned and studied aboutnwomen in this course, but my ownnpersonal self has been affected; I havenbeen challenged to think and reflect onnmy past, present, and future life as anwoman. I have not just learned aboutnwomen this semester, but I have alsongrown as a woman.”nAnother student, from a Southern,nChristian family, found the course especiallynexciting because of the newnways in which it helped her to read hernBible. She devoted her final paper to annumber of biblical heroines and drewnfrom her extensive research a newnfeeling for and identification with thenfaith in which she had been reared. Yetnanother took the occasion of the finalnpaper to review all of the courses shenhad taken in Spanish and English (herndouble major). Treating the paper asnher private commencement address,nshe assessed the place of women in thenliberal education she had received.nNever, she insisted, had she viewednthat education as restrictive, but hernwomen’s studies class did open herneyes to “the limitations of my malendominated education.” For until shenread an article on the canon for thatnclass she “would not have viewed thencanon as a political statement.”nOut of a total of 128 authors, hernten English courses had included sixteennwomen. She believed it predictablenthat her courses in Chaucer andnShakespeare included only male authors—nshe did not comment onnwhether any feminist critics had beennAdvertise In. . .nChnonlclesnA MAGAZINE OF AMERICAN CULTUREnEach month Chronicles offers a sophisticated, welleducatednaudience unavailable anywhere else. Ournexclusive advertising space is uncluttered andnsurrounded by award-winning graphics and design.nFor your free information packet please contact LearmnDobbs or Cathy Corson at 815/964-5054.nnnSEPTEMBER 1990/51n