Almost two years after students demanded that Yale “decolonize the English department,” Ivy League universities are rolling out literature courses taught purely in Akkadian, and Yale has replaced the statue of its first president, Abraham Pierson, with the giant basalt obelisk of the Code of Hammurabi.
Jessica Brantley, director of Yale’s new department of Mesopotamian Literature, told The Yale Daily News, “We’ve constructed a curriculum that has inclusion as its goal, embedded in the structures of its requirements, and I’m very excited to implement and develop that curriculum further. Not only is Yale bringing dead ideas back to life, we’re incorporating them into our daily lives.”
According to The College Fix, the old requirements in English included two courses in “Major English Poets” like Chaucer and Shakespeare. But students said the series was “actively harmful due to its focus on white male poets.”
Students will now study “Major Mesopotamian Poets” in their native languages, reading hymns and cult songs, narrative and mythological compositions, and other literature such as “A Man and His God,” “An Axe for Nergal,” and “The Home of the Fish.”
No one knows for sure how Brantley intends to “develop” a curriculum taught in cuneiform, but freshman student Chip Block said he’s “excited” to be one of the first students enrolled in Babylonian 131, The Activism of Kings: A Praise Poem of Ḫammu-rābi.
“I don’t know any cuneiform,” said Block, “but I’m excited about being immersed in an ancient inclusive language that teaches us first truths about stuff like sex and slavery. We’re really really stoked about eliminating white supremacist authors.”
Yale University President Peter Salovey said that erecting the Hammurabi stele represents one giant step forward by standing deep in the chasm of our shared past.
A social psychologist and leading researcher in emotional intelligence, he believes the strong should not harm the weak, but that the U.S. Constitution has institutionalized white supremacy, thus harming all Americans.
A study by Yale campus police found that no undergraduate student knew who Hammurabi was – or that 7 of his first 10 Codes demand the death sentence for the guilty – but 97% of students and faculty support replacing the Constitution.
The study’s executive summary notes that “[e]ven though Hammurabi’s empire endorsed slavery and the traditional view of marriage, students see the American legal system as unfair to the gay community and people of color, and are excited about adopting laws from the cradle of civilization.”
“Yale truly is a New Haven,” said Salovey, promising that quotes from Hammurabi will be posted at key locations all over the Yale campus. Segments of the community will gather around the obelisk each day – schedule TBD – to embrace the idea that human engagements with the natural world are profoundly shaped by their approach to equality.
“Just like the city-state of Babylon, the Ivy League is proud to bring people together based on gender and identity,” said Salovey. “And Yale will see justice done in the same way. By pledging allegiance to the Code of Hammurabi, students, alumni, faculty, staff, and local residents will all be bound together in a community committed to bringing about the rule of righteousness, and destroying the wicked and the evil-doers.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated. No undergraduate students know who Hammurabi was, but all are excited about dumping the Constitution.