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Changing courses

January 20, 2007

Re "They twisted 'The Phallus,' " Current, Jan. 14

At the risk of being politically incorrect, thankfully The Times is fair and balanced and published Jeffrey Tobin's response to Charlotte Allen. Her article was infuriating. I might not agree with many contributors' points of view, but they are usually well reasoned and researched. I doubt Allen checked out any of the syllabi of the courses she disparages. As an honors graduate of Brown University in the much-maligned discipline of semiotics, I would be happy to challenge her to a consideration of Plato and Appomattox, and not only how history relates to our culture but the history itself.

By the way, I studied both in depth in the context of courses that she might deem irrelevant.

NATHANIEL GOODMAN

West Hollywood

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I am an Occidental College student and, unfortunately, decided to read Tobin's piece defending his class, "The Phallus." I've never heard of Tobin, and based on his article and what I read about his class, I'm glad I haven't. For $45,000 a year, I wish my school offered a better course so that my degree would be taken more seriously once I graduate.

MATTHEW HUNTER

Los Angeles

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I graduated from Occidental College in the 1960s, when it was still possible to get a good education there. Now the school has a Department of Critical Theory and Social Justice, a course on "The Phallus" and professors such as Tobin, who believe that "feminism, queer theory, critical race theory and other theories meant to explain white-male oppression" belong in the curriculum of a first-rate college.

If this is the direction in which Occidental College is headed, it can get there without any financial support from me.

JAMES WORTHEN

Pismo Beach

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