Why is my curriculum white, male and straight and how do I fix it?

I never wanted to be the kind of person who had a non-inclusive curriculum. I am of the lefty, hippy-dippy, queer, equality-loving, anti-racist, anti-ablist, anti-lookist, anti-anti-semitism, gender-equal, anti-colonialist, anti-all-the-bad-things, pro-all-the-good-and-kind-things persuasion and it always bothered me that the classes I attended as a student had almost exclusively white, male, straight, Christian curricula. I was going to do it differently.

Then I got to design my first curriculum. I was also preparing for an important exam and finishing a conference paper. I was slightly behind with my PhD work. And I needed to write a journal article. I was inexperienced, nervous, and running out of time. What do you do when you are nervous and under pressure? You fall back on what you know. To play it safe, I taught the texts I had been taught at university and ended up with precisely the kind of curriculum that I had always

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Pictured: My first curriculum (pretzel not part of the original curriculum)

wanted to avoid: a white, straight sausage-fest of a reading list. At the time, I didn’t even realise it. Indeed, I felt really good about my curriculum because I had managed to include a text by George Eliot and one by Oscar Wilde – a gay, white man and a straight, white woman who assumed a male nom-de-plume. So my curriculum wasn’t entirely male or straight. Still it was all white but nobody noticed (nobody apart from me, in retrospect).

Why was my curriculum white?

The simple answer is that it was white because it was easy. This is what I never understood as a student. My teachers weren’t necessarily presenting me with these all-white, all-male, all-straight curricula because they were evil, they were doing it because they were busy. If you have too many classes to teach, papers to write, funding to apply for, money to worry about and potentially a spouse and kids to take care of you end up doing what everybody else is doing, what you were trained to do. You don’t have to be racist, sexist, or queer-phobic in order to have a non-inclusive curriculum, it’s enough that your teachers, or their teacher, or their teachers’ teachers were. Under pressure, the status quo reproduces itself. As a white, straight male once said (purportedly): “For evil to triumph, all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing”. For non-inclusivity to triumph, all that is necessary is for equality-loving inclusive humans to be lazy or overworked.

So how do you fix it?

Well, the easy answer is: study something inclusive. If I had studied gender studies, queer theory or post-colonial literature, I wouldn’t be facing this problem. If the curriculum I experienced as a student had been designed with a focus on marginalised experience, I would now fall back on this wealth of inclusivity – and credit where credit is due, I had one fantastically inclusive tutor who supervised an undergrad dissertation I wrote on Carol Ann Duffy’s female, queer poetry (thanks @DrAliceKelly). Yes, sometimes, I regret my decision not to study something more aligned with my politics. And I am now slowly moving in that direction, partially, thanks to my students (I had the great fortune of teaching writing skills to someone working on Maori literature and to tutor two students working on gender metamorphosis).

But the truth is that my academic path wasn’t a mistake but the result of a decision. I work on the intersection of Victorian literature, philosophy and theology. I couldn’t have chosen a whiter, or more male-dominated subject if I had tried to. And maybe I did try to. Maybe, part of what attracted me to my topic is that my identity doesn’t fit in. I am a German, Jewish Atheist working on Victorian High Anglicanism and I love it. Philosophy and theology fit the rigid, logical way my brain works. And sometimes it is my mastery of these traditionally male realms that feels just that little bit extra-subversive.

So no, my realisation that given my academic upbringing and my topic-choice I naturally fall back on non-inclusive reading lists has not led me to abandon my field of study for the more colourful pastures of post-colonial literature or gender studies. Instead it has made me try harder to be a rainbow beacon of inclusivity in the homogenous, white dearth I study. This term, I am teaching a class on philosophy and the novel of ideas. Writing a reading list for that class could take me all of ten seconds and it would include Goethe, Voltaire, Carlyle, Froude, Dostoyevsky, Sartre, and Nietzsche. Preparing for that class would take me a day, since I know these guys and their texts by heart. And it would be a good class, too. Stimulating, interesting, challenging – all of the things – but it wouldn’t be an inclusive or diverse one.

So this is where the real work begins. At first I struggled to find authors that represent both the novel of ideas and the diversity my curriculum lacked. So I asked my friends who do post-colonial or gender studies and I asked the hive mind on facebook and collectively we came up with a long list of works I had never heard of or at least never read. And yes, I transformed a days worth of preparation into weeks of additional (unpaid) reading that I could have used for my thesis. But I also ended up with a reading list that includes such works as: Ralph Elliosn’s Invisible Man, Jo Walton’s The Just City,  and Yukio Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. At first, I  was secretly afraid I was diluting the rigidly philosophical pool but the truth is that Mishima’s Sailor is as mind-boggling a novel as any I had originally on my list. And Jo Walton deals with ideas that never occurred to any of the guys on my old list, precisely because they never experienced the struggle for equal-significance.

I am not sure if this story has a happy ending. For now it does. But what happens when instead of a couple of classes a year, I have a full teaching position. Could I do all this unpaid work once I have to bear the brunt of academia in the age of austerity, with all the overwork it entails. Even now, I wonder whether with the hours and hours of additional, unpaid preparation, I am unwittingly validating and supporting a culture of overwork. But I’ll leave this ethical conundrum for another day. For now, I’ll just keep on reading Toni Morrison, John Jacob Thomas, Adichie and Radclyffe Hall to furnish my stock of non-white, non-male, non-straight authors for the rainy day when I need to write a curriculum under pressure again. Sometimes, you just have to go the extra mile to stick it to “the man” and his straight, white brethren.

I welcome all corrections, suggestions and amendments. Inclusivity is a kind of progress not a stable state, so tell me: how could I do better?

 

 

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About Oxford DPhile

I'm a doctoral candidate in English at Somerville College, Oxford. My thesis, tentatively titled “Just Literature: Evil, Victorian Narrative, and the Problem of Theodicy”, explores the interplay between literature and theodicy – the justification of a good God in light of the existence of evil – in the works of A.H. Clough, J.A. Froude and George Eliot. I teach English Literature at the University of Würzburg, coach academic writing in English at Oxford, blog about the tricks and pitfalls of thesis writing, and love to collaborate. My novel "Das Unglück anderer Leute" was published by Galiani Berlin in August 2016.
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11 Responses to Why is my curriculum white, male and straight and how do I fix it?

  1. Jo Walton says:

    (Here from my Google alerts.)

    You’re teaching me as a novel of ideas with Voltaire? That is beyond awesome, and that’s going to make me happy all day. And oh wow, you are working on theodicy in Eliot, how fascinating.

    I’ve thought for a long time that there could be a very interesting course on Middlemarch and Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy and a bunch of secondary reading and thinking, but just on those two books, their similarities and differences, their worlds and assumptions. Have you read Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day? No, I am not going to sit here designing dream diverse English courses, I have work to do!

    What I wanted to say was that you only have to do all the work for the first time once. You’ll always have Mishima as a go to from now on, even when you’re busy. And you’re conscious of the question, which is worth the world.

    A while ago I came across a new blogpost of my first novel and the young blogger was amazed I’d done all this gender stuff in a fantasy novel “way back in 2000”. (It was just the other day!) When I look at that book now, I wince at all the things I did wrong — I had a character come out and get killed the next day, ouch — and as I try to deal with diversity issues now, I’m actually aware that in fifteen years time I’ll be wincing at the way I did them. So your first curriculum was white, but it did have Wilde and Eliot. And I killed (heroically, in battle) the guy who just came out but I also had an asexual protagonist and a lot of thinking about what it took to have women fighting. The very fact that we are wincing now is because the world is better, and we are better. It’s great that we’ll be wincing even more in the future at the baby steps we are taking right now, because that means that world will be better again. And if that’s so, if it is, then it is a tiny part because you’ve put in this extra work, that you reached out and made this effort.

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    • Can I just assume this is actually you? My partner thinks it isn’t; I think it sounds too convincing not to be you. Also, thinking it is you makes this the best day of the century, while thinking it’s just an online impersonator makes it only a mildly pleasing occurrence – in either case, thanks for this incredibly encouraging comment! This is almost too awesome to be true. (But I hope it’s true nevertheless).

      I’ll take this chance to say that I think The Just City is one of the best books I ever read – I don’t say this lightly, or because I might be talking to the author but because I am a doctoral student in English at Oxford who reads for a living and this is truly how I felt about it while reading and after – and it can totally hold its own against Voltaire. And yes, though it broke my heart, I liked The Philosopher Kings at least as much and it made me understand so many things. It sometimes seems to me that fantasy and sci-fi aren’t taken seriously enough in academia. I truly feel that I have become better at being human through your books and that they should be taught in university. I also felt consistently well entertained. Apologies for the kitsch, it comes from the heart and the brain.

      I will now go and read your first novel (which, I must admit, I haven’t read yet, so I blame myself for the spoiler in your comment) and I promise not to judge any of the “things you did wrong”. My first novel is about to be published and I already cringe at some of the things that seemed perfectly fine when I handed in the final proofs a few months ago… Though I am now more pleased than ever that I prevented the pink cover that was almost about to happen to my poor book.

      And when I work on more inclusive curricula in the future, or when I wince looking back, I will think of you working on gender “way back in 2000” and looking back today wincing, too, because the world is getting better. Thanks for the wonderful books and the encouragement and also the great teaching opportunity (yes, I will take this comment to class with me…).

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  3. An actual anti-racist says:

    If you select your sources by their skin colour, you are a racist. If you select your sources by gender, you are sexist. Perhaps you should focus more on the ideas people hold rather than their pigmentation or genitalia?

    Like

    • Dear actual anti-racist. I very much see your point. And this question has cost me a lot of sleepless nights. My thoughts on this issue are a work in progress and I am happy to hear your input.
      The reason this has cost me sleep is that I like to evaluate on the basis of merit alone. For the past few years, I have graded “Thinking Skills Assessment” Tests, which are one of the tools that the University of Oxford uses to determine which applicants to allow into their Philosophy, Politics and Economy course. I always make sure not to see applicants names or any background information, so that my unconscious biases do not influence my marking. I do the same when I mark my own students’ essays.
      I would love to do the same with the texts I put on my reading list but unfortunately that’s simply not possible. The way I make a curriculum (and the way most of the literature lecturers I know make a curriculum) goes something like this: I think of a topic – mostly one that I have previously studied myself, either for my doctoral thesis, or during my own time as a student. Then I start thinking about which texts are suitable for that topic. And this is where the problem lies: The texts I think of are obviously the texts I either read myself or at least heard of. When making a curriculum, I obviously cannot think of a text that I have never ever heard of. And the texts I encountered as a student were almost exclusively written by white people, mostly men. Not because I chose them for their skin colour or genitalia but because those were the texts on the reading lists. Yes, I read some other texts as well but the truth is that during the six years I studied literature, I rarely had time to read outside the lists. In Cambridge my assigned reading came to about 1000 pages a week. In Oxford it was similar. In Heidelberg my reading list for English was considerably shorter but I was also studying philosophy – and as you are probably aware – reading Kant or Hegel takes a lot of time. So basically, when I finished my degree I had been reading almost exclusively what was on the list for a long time. And what was on the lists was what is often called DWEMS – Dead White European Males.
      If you look at any “canon” not compiled with the specific aim of being inclusive what you will find is mostly “DWEMS”. If you look at the reading list of any literature course not designed with the aim of being inclusive, what you will find are mostly DWEMS.
      Briefly, there are two ways of engaging with this fact. You can believe that:
      1) White, European males are naturally better at writing books. This may or may not be true (I don’t think there is a way of assessing it). But you cannot hold this to be true without being sexist and/or racist. To believe that people of a certain skin colour or with a certain set of chromosomes or whatever are naturally better at writing is sexist and racist – regardless of truth content.
      2) White, European males are not naturally better at writing books. If they are not naturally better, then the fact that DWEMs make up the largest part of the canon must mean that there is some form of systemic sexism/racism at play. Either, because DWEMs are more likely to be nurtured into writing (this is certainly true for a long part of European history). Or because DWEMs are more likely to have their texts valued highly. Personally, I believe that it’s a mixture of both. More importantly, I think the problem is that canons – the list of classics – are relatively stable. That is: I teach mostly the texts I was taught by my teachers. My teachers teach mostly the texts they were taught by their teachers. Their teachers taught mostly the texts they were taught. etc. etc. etc. If you continue this only for a few generations, you reach people who knowingly and intentionally read only DWEMs.
      At Cambridge I was taught by a man in his 80s who was taught by someone born in the 19th century, who believed that women could write romance and novels but never philosophy because their brains were incapable of understanding complex thought. That is: a large part of the canon that my generation of students encountered is determined by people who thought women were incapable of complex thought and black people were incapable of writing altogether. Even if we are often not aware of it, what makes a literary canon is mostly age and tradition – what we often call “reading the classics” – and the people who built this tradition were from our perspective largely racists and sexists.
      This means that when I look for texts to put on a reading list, I intuitively go through a list of books that wasn’t chosen randomly or based on merit but at least partially to exclude anybody who is not a DWEM. I cannot correct this without taking categories like sex, gender and skin-colour into account. I have to make a conscious effort to include those people that our cultural forefathers excluded. So I intentionally read texts written by non-DWEMs and then, once I have added these new texts to the library in my mind, I can begin choosing on the basis of merit. And make no mistake, in the end I did choose on merit. I ended up with two obligatory texts: one written by the very colonial, very DWEM James Anthony Froude, and one written by Jo Walton and a host of other texts, some DWEM-authored, some not. What determined my choices was the quality of the books and the ideas they express. But in order to make this merit-based choice, I first have to make sure to include the people that other have excluded. Otherwise it’s like blindly choosing the best student in a class that somebody else has made sure only consists of red-haired white boys. Obviously, what I end up with will be a red-haired white boy! It will be a very talented red-haired white boy because I chose him on the basis of his merit but that doesn’t mean that if other people had been allowed into class I might not have chosen somebody else entirely. To make a fair choice, I must ensure that the class is made up of people from all walks of life, all kinds of genitalia, all kinds of skin colour. To make a non-racist, non-sexist curriculum, I must make sure that I encounter texts from all kinds of writers – even though many of them will not yet have the same canonic status.
      I hope this answers your question.

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  4. bornmax says:

    May I make my doubts on this:
    »I am a German, Jewish Atheist working on Victorian High Anglicanism and I love it. Philosophy and theology fit the rigid, logical way my brain works.«

    If I would say: “I am a catholic atheist” my mother would cry loudly “You cannot be what You pretend to be NOT”. Your speech seems to be rodden or paradoxical by intention.

    The proposition “fit the rigid, logical way my brain works” does exactly the same: By some meta language you confirm Yourself to be able to give paradoxical statements. (This is NOT great.)

    You ask »Why is my curriculum white, male and straight and how do I fix it?«
    May I suggest to notice that your curriculum is a list of topics often called “Lernziele” (learning objective?). This conception does not give any meaning to the attribute “white” or “male”. Your speech is indicating a severe confusion about Your concept of Your reality.

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    • Thanks for your doubts. My reply:
      1) I would never presume to tell your mother what being a Catholic means but I can tell you what, for myself and many Jews, being a Jew means. Firstly, Judaism is complex. If there is one thing Jews can agree on, it’s that Jews never agree on anything. Paradoxical joking aside: One of the meanings of the word Israel is “struggle with God” – part of the Jewish identity, as I know it, is debate and disagreement. But here are some basic definitions many Jews hold: Judaism is both a religion and a cultural identity. The religion is mostly based on observance of law – which to my knowledge separates it from Catholicism. That is: to be of the Jewish religion what you must observe the law. The content of your heart while you follow the law is irrelevant. I have known Rabbis who will tell you that they do not believe God exists. What makes them Rabbis is that they follow the law as laid down in the Torah and that they teach it. Faith fluctuates but the law is the law. And God only cares for your action, he does not police your thoughts (in a Jewish understanding of God). So it would indeed be possible to be a religious Jew and an atheist. I, however, am not a religious Jew. I am a halachic and a cultural Jew. Halacha is the body of Jewish religious law and according to that what makes me a Jew is simply that my mother is a Jew. What makes her a Jew is that her mother is a Jew and so on and on. So, because my mother is a Jew, I am a Jew. Again, atheism is irrelevant to my being a Jew according to the Jewish legal definition of what it means to be a Jew. But, since I am not religious and I don’t follow the law, this too would be irrelevant to me if I weren’t culturally a Jew. For many Jews, Judaism is a cultural identity before it is a religion. In the UK and US, I have often heard Jews refer to themselves and each other as members of “the tribe” and I think that says a lot about how many modern Jews see themselves and others. Being Jewish is about belonging to the same minority and sharing some of the same experiences – learning Hebrew, baking Challah, encountering antisemitism, listening to your grandparents talk about exile, finding really appallingly offensive jokes funny, enjoying debate or at least being taught that debate and questioning is good and intellectual obedience is not desirable… Again, whether you believe in God is irrelevant. This culturally Jewish group is huge and mostly well accepted by outsiders. Woody Allen is a Jewish filmmaker (and an atheist). Stephen Fry is a humanist, atheist Jew. I am, to be fully accurate, a Jewish agnostic atheist. That means: culturally I am a Jew; intellectually I am convinced that we cannot know whether God exists, but I have no faith in God (and emotionally I feel there is no God). There is nothing at all paradoxical about these statements.
      2) As I have shown my statement about “Jewish Atheism” is not in any way contradictory or paradoxical. I do not see how my statement about my brain is. Brains are different. I am lousy at spatial awareness and I can get lost in my own home. I am, of course, not a machine. But I tend to think things through with the help of tree diagrams and formal logic, rather than “gut feeling”. I am measurably very good at logic and I am not particularly emotional (though I have bouts of anxiety). If you need proof: I studied philosophy and formal logic at Heidelberg and finished my degree 1.0 with distinction. I did not find formal logic difficult to learn. I also score above average in the “logic” section of IQ tests and am a (passive and sceptical) member of Mensa in Deutschland.
      3) The stylistic device by which one thing is named via a related thing is called “metonomy”. The standard example is “The White House declared that it would not go to war”. Obviously, the White House cannot declare anything. It’s a house. What is meant is “The speaker of the government that is situated in the White House declared…”. Metonomy is a convention of many (perhaps all?) human languages and a pretty common one in journalistic and essayistic writing because it makes texts more readable. In the case of my text, obviously, curriculum/Lehrplan was a metonomy for “Why are the writers of the texts listed on the reading list of my curriculum white, male and straight” but as you can see that is a mouthful. Since metonomy is such a common stylistic device, I used it, assuming that a person reading in good faith and with the aim of communicative cooperation would understand exactly what was meant.
      Many thanks for your input. I hope, I have addressed your doubts to your satisfaction.

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      • bornmax says:

        I did learn that Jew is an ethnicity whereas Judaism is a religion (http://www.zeit.de/campus/2016-08/rassismus-universitaet-lehrplan-studium-gleichberechtigung?commentstart=153&cid=8416528#cid-8416528).
        Hence from this there is no paradox in the first statement.

        You argued that you are free to use a figure of speech (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metonymy) and this should be applicable for the second proposition “curriculum white, male and straight”
        (I guess that methonymy is not appropriate for your example. As the dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/White%20House) tells that “White house” refers to the US-administration explicitly there is no need for secondary explanation here.)

        Your ideas about curriculum (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/curriculum) are not common. You argued that metonymy was applied. What is your aim to do this?

        (Beziehung durch Kontiguität: Die Metonymie arbeitet demgegenüber mit einer Beziehung der räumlichen oder zeitlichen Kontiguität zwischen Begriffen desselben Wirklichkeitsbereiches. Die Begriffe können im Verhältnis räumlicher Nachbarschaft (z. B. Gefäß für Inhalt), zeitlicher Aufeinanderfolge (wie Wirkung und Ursache) oder der Gleichzeitigkeit stehen. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymie)

        The risk of failed speech is to address points that do not exist and to waste time, unique time of life of readers or writers. Taking Wittgenstein seriously your speech tells us that you probably are confused or you like to be confused whereas you like to make this to appear as regular.

        About the risk of confusion: By “methonymy” you eliminate a very important function of our common language, to act as logical ruler (e.g. Curricula are abstract, hence they don’t have colors). Your language is not common. You seem to want others to learn your very special meanings and you try to intrigue your readers: If the reader does accept the attributes given for curricula, you would have created a new topic (at your interests) which is indeed a new object in their mind. This is extreme manipulative! Do you apply this kind of thinking to your own reflections too? If so, the origin of confusion may be detected.

        According to the german https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymie your proposition
        “curriculum white, male and straight” is by no mean a Metonymie, weil die räumliche oder zeitliche Kontiguität zwischen
        • Curriculum und Hautfarbe,
        • Curriculum und Geschlecht,
        • Curriculum und Sexualität
        fehlt.
        Die Behauptung einer Metonymie macht nur nochmals deutlich, dass es um den Wunsch geht, einen
        • als wirklich behaupteten und
        • als tatsächlich wichtig eingeschätzten
        Zusammenhang zwischen den oben genannten Begriffen herzustellen, um ggf. eine Diskriminierung beweisen und politische Maßnahmen begründen zu können.

        This was a free lesson on „How to confuse yourself by non-conform speech”
        Let’s see the proof:
        Your head line was: “Why is my curriculum white, male and straight and how do I fix it?”
        Corrected version: “Why is the literature of my curriculum about white, male and straight people and how do I fix it?”
        Bad? Indeed because this was not intented.
        The hidden message was: “Why is the literature of my curriculum about white, male and straight people only and how do I fix it?”

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      • I find your response somewhat chaotic, so I will answer by quoting the pertinent bits:

        You wrote: “(I guess that methonymy is not appropriate for your example. As the dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/White%20House) tells that “White house” refers to the US-administration explicitly there is no need for secondary explanation here.)”
        If I understand you correctly, you think the examle I gave for metonymy is not applicable because Webster gives two definitions for “the white house” namely “1. a residence of the president of the United States” and “2. the executive of the United States government”. And since the US-administration is listed as one meaning of white house, it is not metonymic to refer to the administration via the term “white house”. The sentence “the white house declared that…” is therefore not metonymic.
        This is incorrect because dictionaries such as Webster aim to show current usage. That is: since so many speakers use this specific metonymy it has become conventionalized and therefore taken up by Webster. It’s still a metonymy. That is: the process of word formation (by which the signifier “white house” came to refer to the signified “US-administration”) is metonymic. Online Webster rarely gives information on word formation, which is why you got confused on this. I recommend the OED because it is more thorough. Under “white house 2. b” it lists: “By metonymy: the U.S. President or Presidential administration” making the word formation clear. If you look on wikipedia you will also explicitly find that “”The White House said” is metonymy, but not synecdoche, for the president and his staff, because, although the White House is associated with the president and his staff, the building is not a part of the people” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymy).

        Your next point was: “Your ideas about curriculum (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/curriculum) are not common.” And you reiterated the point as “Your language is not common”. This point appears to be central to your attack on my use of language, your aside on Wittgenstein, and your general point that both my language and I are confused, confusing and “extremely manipulative!”.

        However, it is based on error on your part, which could have been rectified by using a search engine. If you had googled “why is my curriculum white” or “white curriculum” you would have found that there is an ongoing debate on this topic using this exact phrase. You would have found articles on the website of the National Union of Students (NUS) titled “why is my curriculum white?” (http://www.nus.org.uk/en/news/why-is-my-curriculum-white/) as well as facebook groups and events with the same name and articles in defence of the “white curriculum”. It is a standard phrase in academic discourse in the UK and the US. My aim in using this phrase on my blog was to enter this discourse and make it as clear as possible for readers what I am refering to, namely the “white curriculum” debate. Any other phrase would have made it harder for the intended audience to understand what discourse I am refering to.

        At the same time, I also trusted the phrase to be easily understandable to an educated and cooperative audience not yet aware of the “white curriculum” discourse. A set of German language professionals came to same conclusion for the German translation: The translator at Zeit, my personal proofreader (former editor at Wahrig), the Zeit editor, and the proofreaders at Zeit made the same decision (independently), without ever noting any difficulty with the phrase. Of course, any instance of natural language can be misunderstood – and will be misunderstood by some, given a large enough audience – but with a phrase that is already in common use (and can easily be googled) and that is based on a very conventional linguistic operation (metonymy or synecdoche) the risk was minimal and well worth the gain in brevity, stylistics and especially connection to the existing discourse.

        Finally, you suggest that I was not in fact using metonymy because “According to the german https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymie your proposition “curriculum white, male and straight” is by no mean a Metonymie, weil die räumliche oder zeitliche Kontiguität zwischen “Curriculum und Hautfarbe,Curriculum und Geschlecht, Curriculum und Sexualität” fehlt”. Not that I don’t love wikipedia (I do) but may I again suggest you use the OED, which defines “metonomy, n. a) Rhetoric. (A figure of speech characterized by) the action of substituting for a word or phrase denoting an object, action, institution, etc., a word or phrase denoting a property or something associated with it; an instance of this” (http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/117628?redirectedFrom=metonymy#eid). “Authors who wrote the texts listed on the curriculum” are obviously associated with “curriculum”. Therefore substituting the former with the later is a metonomy as defined by the OED. Rhetoric terms, such as metonomy, are ways of describing natural language and as such have fuzzy boundaries and overlap. Thus one could argue that the operation at work is a synecdoche, which the OED defines as “A figure of speech in which a more inclusive term is used for a less inclusive one or vice versa, as a whole for a part or a part for a whole.” (http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/196458?redirectedFrom=synecdoche#eid). In this case the whole “curriculum” replaces the part “authors who wrote the texts listed on the curriculum”. Both can be argued but I think the case for metonymy is easier (and not all linguists and rhetoricists differentiate between the two). Since both are very common linguistic operations, I think it is irrelevant for the larger argument that the phrase “why is my curriculum white etc.” is easily understandable to educated and cooperative speakers.

        Finally you claim that “This was a free lesson on „How to confuse yourself by non-conform speech””

        To this let me respond that I am happy to debate with you, time permitting. But I ask you to refrain from attempting to give me lessons, because attempting to give an adult lessons (free or otherwise) without their express wish is extremely ill-mannered and, more importantly, because you do not appear to be qualified to do so, if our conversation so far is any indication.
        Of your three original criticism on my post, the first was based on lack of knowledge on your part and an unwillingness to google “Jewish atheist” – which would have cleared up your confusion. The second (that my speech is paradoxical and not logical) was a result of your first error. As I have shown, your third criticism was also based on a mixture of lack of knowledge, unwillingness to google, and, as it increasingly seems, wilful misunderstanding. These are not the credentials I look for in a teacher. If anything, I am schooling you.

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