Scott Cawelti

About Scott Cawelti -

Scott Cawelti was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He taught writing, film, and literature at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) from 1968-2008, and has written regular opinion columns and reviews for the Waterloo / Cedar Falls Courier since the late 1970s.  He played for years in a folk duo with Robert James Waller and still regularly performs as a singer/guitarist/songwriter. Scott continues to teach as an adjunct instructor at UNI.

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  • Degree in Conservative Arts At Last

    • Posted on Nov 24, 1996 by Scott Cawelti

    11-24-96                       

     All over America, college students continue to sign up and

    line up for required liberal arts courses. Educators insist that

    students need exposure to a variety of disciplines in order to

    become broadly educated.

    No narrow nerds or corporate cogs, they say. We want flexi-

    ble, intelligent, liberally educated citizens of the world, able

    to respond appropriate to a rapidly changing environment.

    So whether students like it or not, at most universities,

    they must take a variety of philosophy, literature,  history,

    science, and mathematics courses, not to mention physical education and

    social science studies.

    However, most students find these courses a bore. Since many

    professors prefer to work in their specialities, liberal arts

    aren't often well taught.

     Moreover, in a conservative political world, the liberal

    arts seem downright irrelevant. So it's time for a revamp. How

    about a Conservative Arts curriculum?

    Corporation executives would surely flock to hire graduates

    with degrees in the Conservative Arts. At LAST, they would ex

    claim: A curriculum that fits the real world. No more ivory tower

    pretenses. And no more liberals with their outdated liberal arts

    forced down our throats. 

     So, what might a Conservative Arts curriculum look like?

    Here are a few courses that would surely pass muster in any

    conservative catalog of Important Things:

                              

     STASIS 101: The art of inertia. Students will learn to

    successfully resist change in all its forms, no matter how at-

    tractive and beneficial. Practical experience offered in road

    blocking and bottlenecking, not to mention stonewalling.

     INTRODUCTION TO PATRIOTISM. Blind loyalty for fun and prof-

    it. "My country right or wrong," "Love it or leave it," both  

    examined as potential national slogans. Daily pledge of alle-

    giance required. Prerequisite: ability to sing "Star Spangled

    Banner" from memory, but not necessarily in tune. Flag burners

    will be identified and humiliated.

    GOUGING 101. Theory and practice of all the traffic will

    bear. Recent gouging variants, including "Trickle-Down," "Supply

    Side" and "Voodoo Economics" examined in detail. Students encour-

    aged to read instructor's lips.  Special sections offered:

    gouging the environment, gouging the government, gouging poor

    people, gouging charitable foundations. Not offered: gouging rich

    people.

     NOSTALGIA 101: Lessons on how to live in the past. Students

    learn to get along without the present. Costumes not provided.

    Old radio and TV programs, movies, and novels read and appreciated

    for what they were: a powerful means of avoiding anything

    real. Prerequisite: STASIS 101.

     FITNESS AND HEALTH: AEROBIC WALKING BACKWARD. Benefits of

    backwards walking demonstrated and practiced. Variety of ap-

    proaches offered, all of which allow slow forward movement with

    eyes firmed fixed on the past. Prerequisite: STASIS 101.

    THE GOLDEN AGE OF POLITICS: The Eisenhower, Nixon, and

    Reagan eras. Great achievements by the greatest politicians of

    the last fifty years. Major speeches and books by Ike, Dick, and

    Ron will be studied in detail. Some students may require nausea

    medication. Prerequisite: GOUGING 101.

    THE GOLDEN AGE OF ART AND POETRY: Norman Rockwell and Joyce

    Kilmer. Appreciating paintings and poems that tell us what we

    want to see and hear. Emphasis on perfect families, perfect

    trees, (Kilmer's "Trees" a primary text) and perfect people.

    THE GOLDEN AGE OF FAMILIES: In-depth studies of Ozzie and

    Harriet Nelson, Cleaver, and Father Knows Best families. For

    perspective, contrasting families briefly examined: the Bunkers

    (Archie and Edith) and the Connors (Rosie and Dan). Prerequisite:

    NOSTALGIA 101.

    THE GOLDEN AGE OF CORPORATIONS: Standard Oil, U.S. Steel,

    AT&Tk, examined in detail for how they operated before unions and

    anti-trust laws wrecked them. Prerequisite: GOUGING 101.

    INTRODUCTION TO CORPORATE WELFARE:  How to incorporate in order in order to receive free government benefits. Examination of major corporations' methods of finding and using tax loopholes. Prerequisite: GOUGING 101. 

    INTRODUCTION TO CENSORSHIP:  Studies in how to impose morality on others without applying it to oneself. Great censorship cases examined for how they worked to raise the comfort level of conservatives. Prerequisite: STASIS 101. 

    THE MAGIC OF WEAPONRY: Explorations of favorite weapons systems with emphasis on Star Wars, the B-1, and other assorted Pentagon gems. Special section on methods of marketing various weapons to third world countries. Prerequisite: GOUGING 101. 

    INTRODUCTION TO WELFARE FRAUD INVESTIGATION. Study of proper use of stereotypes, labels, and easy answers. Includes field trips to welfare queens' homes, interviews with freeloaders, and methods of spotting people not paying their fair share. 

    A major objection to such a curriculum, of course, is that the world as we know it teaches all these courses, and more efficiently, than any university. 

    Still, I think it's worth a try. Since liberals have a curriculum, it's only fair that conservatives have theirs, too.



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