Chained to the New Trivium

Jocelynn Cordes’ new guest-essay concerns the stifling intellectual straitjacket in which post-modern university writing courses are confined.

Chained to the New Trivium:

Somewhere in the Bowels of the University, Teachers and Students Alike are Crying Out “Please, Let’s Explore Something New!!”

by Jocelynn Cordes

A few years back, I was at a faculty meeting with the rest of the composition department at the university where I was then teaching. There were both tenured professors present as well as adjunct (part-time) shmucks such as myself who, for a pittance, taught incoming freshmen what is universally considered an essential skill — writing. Despite occupying the lowest tier in the university caste system, we adjuncts were a crucial part of these planning sessions, for we taught the bulk of the courses comprising the university’s writing curriculum.

The objective of this meeting was to plan the next year’s syllabus for Composition I and II. Although the types of essays we assigned students to write would not change — they were classic essay forms chosen to make students nominally prepared for the sort of writing their college coursework would require of them — other things could be altered, such as the theme around which our assignments revolved.

Ideally, a theme helps make things both interesting and organized. It provides focus for an instructor who would otherwise spend the semester floundering amidst a vast sea of potential essay topics. For students, it furnishes a subject to delve into and explore for the entire semester, a thread that will run through their assignments in some unifying fashion. A department-approved theme for each instructor’s class also provides some coherence for the department itself, an assurance of sorts that its instructors weren’t going to go off the deep end and introduce all manner of inappropriate subjects into what is fundamentally supposed to be a class centered on a craft.

So at this particular meeting, all we had to do was come up with our theme. Now, a lot of us who had been teaching composition for a while had zero expectations that the topic selected would differ much from previous years; consequently, an air of resignation issued from most of those present — a lassitude generated by the prospect of having nothing new to look forward to. After all, anyone even remotely familiar with the zeitgeist of the contemporary university would have been able to guess that our theme would most certainly revolve around some aspect of the new trivium, race, class, and gender, that unfortunately replaced the old one, grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

For the uninitiated (a group shrinking by the hour) a quick summary of the ideas that might be canvassed in a writing course designed around any one or all of these subjects might be in order. A course with gender as its theme would involve examining how gender is a social construct detached from biological sex, a consideration of how gender is actually fluid, as opposed to fixed, and must of necessity include a critique of patriarchy. A course centered on the subject of race would present issues such as determining what, if anything, constitutes race, how race (when it exists) impacts privilege, as well as the obligatory critique of colonialism. Finally, any focus on economic class will most certainly entail an examination of how class structures bestow privilege. This politicized set of ideas, with their educational and moral telos firmly fixed at the outset, have been drummed into students’ heads throughout their short lives, and for those who attend university, the beat will continue with gathering intensity for several more years.

This short summary reveals the essential nature of a writing course designed around any part of this triumvirate: it is a class in which the student’s attention is briefly directed outward (the sociological/anthropological element) before being redirected back to themselves. I’ve often quipped that these courses could easily be described as a more elaborate version of the “All About Me” pamphlets often assigned in elementary classrooms.

But that day something completely unexpected occurred at our meeting. Out of the blue, someone suggested we do something different, that we consider organizing our composition courses around a subject — an actual object of inquiry.

Whaaaaaat?” most of us were probably thinking. “An actual subject? A theme that would encourage our students to think about something other than themselves and their fixed role in a trite set of oppositions, oppressor and oppressed? Wow! Crazy!”

I don’t remember who this iconoclast was, but with that remark it was as if the carapace in which we were imprisoned had suddenly been shattered. Our collective ennui dissipated at the first whiff of fresh air; people sat up straight in their chairs and leaned forward eagerly over the conference table. Pandora’s Box had been opened with a sledge hammer.

Suddenly, all sorts of subjects — actual subjects! — were flying around the room as if they had a life of their own. Architecture, animals, volunteerism, the environment, technology, music, space exploration, media, educational reform, inventions, etc. People barely finished one thought before throwing out another. The enthusiasm grew contagious as we all realized that we just might be able to engage our minds and those of our students with something interesting. Anything, but that excruciatingly narrow focus on identity politics. As ideas were kicked around, the uptick in our moods seemed irrepressible.

But just as we were gleefully beginning to narrow down the possibilities for our fresh, new semester, a young female adjunct just out of graduate school tentatively put forward a suggestion, one that after quite a bit of hesitation and circumlocution appeared to be concerned with — identity construction. You could almost hear the massive brakes of an 18-wheeler squealing to a halt.

Before we knew it, before we were even able to process how it happened, with our excited smiles still plastered to our faces, we realized the same old trio was back on the table: race, class, and gender. It was as if the young adjunct, a sorcerer’s apprentice of sorts, had, with just a few words, re-cast the spell of political correctness and summoned back into the box all those glorious subjects — those choice products of the human mind — which had temporarily escaped. We were left gasping for air in a suffocating vacuum.

The lid closed, and once again we were in the grip of the contemporary university’s idée fixe. We slumped back down in our chairs without even enough energy to wonder what the hell had happened.

Akashi Gidayu writing his death poem before committing seppuku

Previous posts by Jocelynn Cordes, a.k.a. Plum McCauley:

2017   Dec   13   Muslims Need an Enlightenment, Not a New Head of “Church”
2023   Feb   11   Re-examining the Term “White Supremacy”

7 thoughts on “Chained to the New Trivium

  1. how about being told what to write, and if it isn’t written to the Dean’s PERSONAL satisfaction you will not graduate until the Dean is personally satisfied. On the knees and kiss, I suppose. The article doesn’t surprise me, in fact, it would appear to be a logical progression of events that began back in 2009 with Obama’s first executive order that was released on the Ides of March, 2009 that redefined collegiate accreditation. Sooooo, do the write thing and write what you are told to write, right?

  2. reminds me of our high school literature teacher – an older lady who loved poetry and romance, and for 3 years forced us to read dozens of romantic and poetic books – Oh god how I hate romance and poetry now!

    I’d rather read the technical specifications to a screw.

    But seriously – is it how bad it had gotten? That a writing course lets the students write only about race, class, and gender?

  3. Secular fascism is very limited in its world view and cannot allow free expression. It has to coerce human choice in order to enforce its virtual imprisonment.

    The Creator uniquely endowed mankind with free will, but man is obsessed with enslaving others (and woman even more so); winning them over not by rhetoric, but by mental imprisonment a.k.a. slavery..

    Slaves are not allowed to ‘think’ or have opinions outside of those of their masters and owners. Physical (chattel) slavery primarily requires obedience in thought as well as in word and deed and thus when faced with a hoax such as the Covid-19, most of us are incapable of assimilating the wherewithal to challenge it, instead we beat our dustbin lids in praise of our overseers.

    What! allow freedom of expression in the junior common room – Oh no, the Dean would not approve – her own bigotry might be challenged,,,,

  4. A thought-provoking story — viewing from Hungary that lags two-three generations of Marxist subversion behind the US (while she has had its [un]fair share of Soviet Commie subversion).

    The phemomenon Jocelynn Cordes’ essay describes is nauseating and uplifiting at the same time, like the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

    If I had to give a title to Cordes’ essay, I would come up with something like “Institutionalized Cowardice” or “Herr Marx Charges the Electric Fence for You, Sheep” or “Back off, Sheeple, for Stalin’s Sake!”. Because it is truly amazing how the brainwashed student-sheeple in the story were herded back by the electric fence of political correctness: it is not just that you have to be an end-user and enabler of [neo]Marxism, but you cannot be anything else! And you are not even allowed to think of anything else.

    Which effectively turns people into autistic automatons that do not actually think. At all! Running pre-written programmes on your mind is not thinking. Generally speaking, you literally cannot think if you want to survive oppression. You cannot even start thinking under authoritarian rule and not rebel — without facing your own cowardice. So either you stop thinking OR start rebelling. There is no middle way. There is no other psychological choice. It is black or white. It is white pill or red pill (to use the predictive programming of our enemy). But for being able to rebel, first you must admit to yourself that you have been a coward. That is why the students eventually retreated in Cordes’ class, like rabbits.

    Cordes’ story sheds light on the clockwork of revolutions. Because the post is about a — small and weak — revolution that has taken place in a class … but it was a sprout of a real revolution. One that was quickly strangled. (No, not the Trotsky-way: just the opposite —

    Yes, I can see now that that is how the globalist tyranny will end, eventually: the inherent freedom of human mind will break through when the zest for life and striving for happiness and creativity of the masses blast the oppressive constraints of the upcoming Techno-Communist New World Order.

    But of course, oppression must become deadly unbearable before the timid hoi polloi begin thirsting for liberty and grace. Yes, grace — after being humiliated for so long. But that is the distant future, unfortunately…

    Another realization I had reading Cordes’ essay is that she had to come as far as Gates of Vienna — one of the last islands of freedom of speech in the world — to be able to publish a seemingly innocent yet subtly [counter-]revolutionary story.

    Then, you know, ideas are flooding my mind about ways to troll such a stifling university atmosphere where one has to adulate Marxist talking points and pseudo-reality and people are forced to praise their own slavery.

    Subverting subversion? It is possible.

    Yes, I know that it would be my last essay at that particular university and the end of my academic carrier — I know it because I grew up in Soviet Socialism where you had to keep your mouth shut at all times (except when you were instructed to praise your Soviet overlords, in lockstep) and you had to swallow blatant lies sideways, and you had to be scared of being publicly humiliated, if you did not toe the line. We had to wear Communist uniforms in the schools, sing Soviet victory songs and so on. People who were more creative or were free just a little bit, were branded “excentric”.

    So what to troll such a politically coerced university writing lesson with?

    Oh, a lot of things. Quotes from Stephen Coughlin (at Unconstrained Analytics), for example. Or with some ideas of the alleged ex-KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov who described the decades-long process of the very state of subversion that caused the universities in question to end up in Communism that dictates the speech. Or trolling would seem perfect with an essay about how Marx himself would look at the subjects of “gender, race” etc. his late followers operate with. And how Satanist (!) Marx was — and hence how Satan would look at “gender”. Or trolling with the propaganda of Yuval Harrari, the chief ideologue of the WEF, whose visions make it clear where the present compulsions of “race and gender” lead to: the annihilation of sexes and races — and humanity and humanness itself.

    The best trolling would be stating the obvious that being forced in classes to write about how you are the oppressor is the oppression. I usually tell the “wokes” that they are actually Bolsheviks. They hate it because it is true. And therefore they have no defence against it.

    The pinnacle of trolling the New Trivium, however, is writing about being “Chained to the New Trivium”. Oh, how I would like to see the glassy eyes of those brainwashed when they get to look at themSlaves in that mirror! ThemSlaves is their real “pronoun”, by the way — if we want to play their stupid game.

    So here we are in a divided society, à la Soros (CIA) and Mao. Which means that if you fight the Bolsheviks you lose against the Globalists. And if you do not fight the Bolsheviks you lose against them first and then against the Globalists. But there is a ray of hope: the Globalists are Bolsheviks.

    You see, unfortunately one cannot oppose the pseudo-phenomena and subversive vocabulary of the tricky construct of Marxist pseudo-reality without becoming controlled opposition within the game of the enemy. Therefore you cannot talk or vote yourself out of tyranny. Tyranny can only be taken down the hard way:

    “Akashi Gidayu writing his death poem before committing seppuku.” LoL. Hilarious. Yes, it is all about the suicide of the West.

    Let me finish with Kevin Langdon’s haiku:

    “Today Spring blossoms,
    Tomorrow I’m in the grave
    — But who gives a s***?”

  5. Try a plumbing course, more relevant and you’ll be the main item at house parties.

  6. WHY was an entire room utterly defeated by an 18 year old female? What’s WRONG with you people? WHY didn’t you tell her to STFU and go bake some cookies?

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