A Modest Proposal

Donald Trump and the Republican Party need to be bolder and more creative if they want to make America great again. The lessons of history are at hand to show them the way.

Donald Trump has been ruminating about requiring all Muslims in America to register in a government database. Creating a registry of Muslims, he says, is one way America can protect itself against terrorism.

His party is ruminating about embracing sexual conversion therapy—programs designed to convert gays and lesbians into heterosexuals. Supporters say that those who undergo conversion therapy are not being bent out of shape—they are being pressured, twisted, and bent back toward authentic sexuality and true humanity. Conversion therapy, say the converters, is saving souls.

As someone who studies forms of conversion in early modern Europe, I would like to make a modest proposal.

It might be time for Donald Trump and Republican Party to undertake a bold new initiative—an initiative inspired by the first great age of conversion, when the armies of Catholic Spain mounted a Crusade across the Iberian Peninsula, drove the Muslim rulers out of Spain, forced all Spanish Muslims and Jews to convert to Christianity, and created the Office of Inquisition to make sure that those who had been compelled to change their religion really had changed.

Modern sexual conversion therapy is indeed a descendant of the programs of forced religious conversion that swept across Europe and the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Consider how readily a Trump government could extend sexual conversion therapy back into the realm of religion where it got its start. A Republican president could require not just registration but also conversion to Christianity of all American Muslims.

The programs for sexual conversion could be greatly enlarged, their funding extended. The converters would gear up to meet the challenge of making America great again by making it both straight and Christian.

Of course, a new Office of the Inquisition would have to be created to assure that those saved by the converters stay saved. But that tiny erosion of individual freedom would be a small price to pay for the Reconquista of America under President Trump.


Reflections on #FutureHumanities

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had some excellent reflections on our May conference event. Check out these great posts, and let us know if you’ve written something about #FutureHumanities that you’d like us to share here on the site.

Stay tuned for more #FutureHumanities news!

Resources from Anne Krook at #FutureHumanities Conference

On May 20th, Anne Krook led a pre-conference workshop to prepare graduate students for the non-academic job market. On May 21st, she delivered the first plenary talk on “mobilizing the humanities.” Krook’s contributions to the #FutureHumanities conference were immense, and she has been kind enough to share those contributions here. For more information and resources, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

Non-academic Job Search [Workshop Slides]

“From Being to Doing: Mobilizing the Humanities” [Plenary Talk]

Self-Description for Résumé-Building [Template Exercise]


Supplement to Graduate Student Plenary

Today begins the 2-day #FutureHumanities conference event! The first plenary session will be a group presentation from a graduate student caucus made up of representatives from participating institutions. As a supplement to that session, we’d like to share a document that contains notes from our collaborative brainstorming session yesterday, as well as remote pre-planning in the weeks leading up to the conference. Please take a look, and we hope you will engage with questions that are represented here but not discussed during the plenary.

#FutureHumanities Student Plenary Discussion

Responding to the White Paper

In a recent University Affairs article, Dr. Paul Forster of the University of Ottawa published “How not to reform the humanities,” an engaging and important critique of IPLAI’s 2013 White Paper. For example, Dr. Forster writes:

“Of course, people need meaningful work and it would be cruel to ignore the employment needs of PhDs. The authors acknowledge that humanities PhDs often pursue non-academic careers that pay well and are fulfilling. But this is to concede – what has been documented time and again – that humanities graduates possess marketable skills and that the prevalent view that they are living in their parent’s basements, on welfare, driving cabs or waiting tables, is wrong.”

Make sure to check out the discussion happening in the comments section of the article, and join in the debate! We’ll also be thinking about many of these issues at our upcoming #futurehumanities conference.


Audio Recording from “Q&A: Teaching CEGEP”

On April 10th, the Professional Development Committee of McGill’s English Department hosted a Q&A session about teaching at CEGEPs in Quebec. The Q&A featured panelists Matthew Taylor, Steph Barrington, and Elisha Conway. Below is the audio recording from that session—a useful tool for anyone interested in learning more about the CEGEP system.

Program of Events + Vision Statements

The Future Humanities conference is less than one month away! We are delighted to present our Program of Events [updated]. The conference will feature a combination of free public sessions (highlighted in yellow on the program) and closed working groups for invited participants. Some events will also be live-streamed (indicated by asterisks on the program), while other work will be shared here on the site after the conference.

We are also excited to share the first round of participant contributions: Vision Statements on the future of humanities graduate education. Make sure to check back often in the coming weeks, as we’ll update the page to include incoming contributions.

Finally, if you haven’t already, make sure to follow us on Twitter and like our page on Facebook.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Visions for the Future of Humanities

As part of our upcoming conference, we’ve asked participating institutions to submit documents that reflect their ideas about the future of humanities graduate eduction. We’ll post these over the next 1-2 weeks so that participants can view each others’ contributions in advance of the conference. To start us off, here are some visions from a group of McGill University graduate students.