Friday, February 11, 2011

A Curricular Proposal

In his recent book on the Mexican War, A Glorious Defeat (Hill & Wang, 2007), Timothy Henderson observed that colonial Mexico was a deeply segregated society: whites virtually monopolized the priesthood, public offices, and professions, while the province's Indian majority had its own separate councils, law courts, and taxes. Mixed-race people, or castas, were denied a secure position in either of these two racial worlds, and while one of Mexico's universities, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, was open to them, it was a third-rate school whose "meager curriculum included courses in how to beg for alms" (p. 9). It occurred to me, though, that given the stagnant economy in the modern United States and the limited job market facing recent college grads, such classes might prove welcome additions to the curricula of some smaller American universities. Perhaps the subject would become popular enough to justify graduate seminars in begging and special training in mendicancy for soon-to-be-cashiered faculty. Just a thought.

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