Letter about University of Southern California

Programs addressed: 
Date of letter: 
April 24, 2008

PAMLA's Executive Committee and many of its general members were shocked to learn of the University of Southern California's plans to close its German Department. This decision strikes us as ill-considered. USC’s plan seems to us to represent a complete misunderstanding of what globalization could be at its very best. The academy should not react to globalization by repeating the mistakes of the past, which, in the West, lead to the exclusion of many non-Western literatures from academic study. We should not now, in turn, begin to exclude from study some Western languages and literatures. Rather, we feel, the academy should react to globalization by being inclusive.

In PAMLA's opinion, to close down USC’s German Department would begin to cut many students off from the study of their own intellectual, cultural, and social histories. And such a closing would clearly also impoverish the study of the writings of many non-Western postcolonial, economic, literary, and political theorists, whose texts are in frequent dialogue with Kant, Hegel, Marx, Weber, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Adorno, and Einstein, to name but a very few of the most important German and German-Jewish thinkers in the intellectual history of the last 250 years.

PAMLA feels that the USC administration’s decision to close down the German Department cannot convincingly be defended on intellectual or philosophical grounds. To us, this plan also stands in complete contradiction to, and in fact would seem to undermine, the excellent academic reputation USC has been enjoying.

PAMLA urges USC's administration, in the strongest possible terms, to reconsider its decision to close down its institution’s German Department.

Very sincerely,

Imke Meyer (Bryn Mawr College), President
Beverly Voloshin (San Francisco State University), First Vice-President
Thierry Boucquey (Scripps College), Second Vice-President
Salah Khan (University of North Dakota), Executive Director
Steven Gould Axelrod (University of California at Riverside), Past President
Roswitha Burwick (Scripps College), Past President
Lorely French (Pacific University), Co-Editor of Pacific Coast Philology
Kathleen Lundeen (Western Washington University), Past President
Lelia May (North Carolina State University), Executive Committee
Catherine Montfort (Santa Clara University), Executive Committee and Past President
Hans J. Rindisbacher (Pomona College), Executive Committee
Heidi Schlipphacke (Old Dominion University), Executive Committee