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Imagine a group of graduate students and professors getting together and overthrowing an English department. Removing the exclusive focus on the traditional canon and replacing it with a new curriculum based on critical theory and dialectical materialism and non-canonical authors. Seems like a good idea to clear out the old and get with the times. Until you realize that when something like that happens at a large, academically sound, regional university not everyone is going to agree that change is good. The result of this revision may be seen at Syracuse University in the English and Textual Studies department, or ETS for short.

The idea behind the ETS program was to provide students with a greater set of tools for studying language and literature. Gone would be the almost exclusive focus on dead white men. Alongside the few spared (such as near-deities William Shakespeare, John Milton, and James Joyce) would be the arguably more relevent Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Ferdinand de Saussure, and Jacques Derrida. When it was pointed out that these were still white men, concessions were made to include feminism, literature of the third world, and cultural studies.

This restructuring brought the university in general much attention in both the popular media and academic circles, which was not entirely positive. At this point it was felt that there was a real opportunity for the university to move to the front of progressive research and education by embracing the new department. This, of course, was not done.

The English and Textual Studies department was not told to abandon their new program. Instead a memorandum war began within the department, spread to the administration level, and ended months later with the defection of several ETS faculty and grad students to the University at Albany.

In its current state the department is an uneasy compromise between literature, theory, and historically marginalized authors. Class titles are not "The Work of William Shakespeare" but rather "Transcending Gender: The 'Other' Women in Shakespeare" or some such. I'm told this is one of only a handful of departments in the United States that has attempted a completely postmodern curriculum. I'm also told that this is slightly less useful than a regular English degree.

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