This summer, Shakespeare’s Globe and Cambridge University are hosting a series of “Anti-Racist Shakespeare” lectures to scrutinize the Bard’s plays “through the lens of race and social justice.”

The works of William Shakespeare are crowning jewels of English literature, longstanding, timeless classics. The modern English language quite literally stands on the shoulders of Shakespeare. Naturally, it’s absurd to judge these perennial texts, over four hundred years old, by today’s “woke” standards.

But we should at least be grateful that Cambridge University is even reading Shakespeare at all. Fewer and fewer schools are.

Several years ago, The Washington Post featured an article from a teacher who strongly disapproved of our education system’s infatuation with the famous playwright. “I am sad,” she wrote, “that so many of my colleagues teach a canon that some white people decided upon so long ago and do it without question.”

“What I worry about is that as long as we continue to cling to ONE (white) MAN’S view of life as he lived it so long ago, we (perhaps unwittingly) promote the notion that other cultural perspectives are less important. In the 25 years that I have been a secondary teacher, I have heard countless times, from respected teachers (mostly white), that they will ALWAYS teach Shakespeare, because our students need Shakespeare and his teachings on the human condition.”

She ultimately concluded by proposing “that we leave Shakespeare out of the English curriculum entirely.”

#DisruptTexts, an absurd organization advocating for a reimagining of classroom literature, blasted the Bard, alleging that requiring Shakespeare be read in schools “is about white supremacy and colonization.”

So, what happened to Shakespeare? After enjoying universal esteem for hundreds of years, why has the dramatist abruptly become an icon of “whiteness?” Why have his plays become so “problematic?”

The answer lies in what C. S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery,” a feeling of superiority over past generations and their oldfangled practices. As Lewis described it, chronological snobbery is “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.” Rather than learn from the art of earlier times, cultures given to chronological snobbery dismiss these works as inherently inferior.

SEE ALSO: Why the Massive Success of “Top Gun: Maverick” is a Good Thing

This problem has become endemic in the modern West. It particularly affects academia. Students are taught to see everything wrong, inferior about the past. They read old classics not to learn, but to critique.

Our chronological snobbery touches more than just Shakespearian literature though. It impacts our perception of history and historical heroes. Institutions of power. Traditional roles. Faith. Religion.

The Founding Fathers created the freest, most exceptional nation in the history of the world. But some were slave owners. Abraham Lincoln opposed slavery and issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Yet even he admitted – at least once – he believed the black race was inferior to the white.

Chronological snobbery blinds us to the good these men accomplished. To all the ways they made the world a better place. They were far from perfect, but their contributions to society were ultimately positive, not negative.

These men lived in a world that got a lot of things wrong (just as ours does), but it also got a lot of things right. Just because their perspective on race or the role of women or anything else was wrong does not mean we are “too good” to learn from their philosophy, art, and accomplishments.

Sanctimonious snobs forgot the wisdom of the past because of its occasional, ostensible foolishness. We can call out what we now know to be wrong. Even so, we must remember that, as Lewis wrote, “our own age is also ‘a period,’ and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.”

Perhaps the best way to open our eyes to the possibility of these blind spots in our thinking is to compare our thinking to the thinking of the past. We have much to learn. We’d be foolish not to tap into the great potential of wisdom at our fingertips.

Jakob Fay is a former SIA Coordinator and current writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance

About The Author