"Reflections on a Lost Cause: English Literature and American Education." Originally published as "English Literature and American Education." Sewanee Review 66 (Summer 1958): 364-81. Also published as "Reflections on a Lost Cause: English Literature and American Education" in Encounter, September 1958: 3-11.
I must begin with an apology, especially to the members of the faculty who may be among my audience. For I mean to talk about a matter of the curriculum.
This is a subject which is not, I believe, intrinsically sordid. And I have no doubt that in that Platonic university to which, some day, all of us will be called, we will all go glad and singing to our ideal faculty meeting about the ideal curriculum. But here on earth things are different–here on earth the broaching of the subject of the college curriculum must inevitably bring to the faculty mind the image of multiplying committees and endless debate, of the wilfulness of colleagues, of weary failures of communication, of special interests valiantly defended, of fatigued compromises that can give satisfaction to no person, to no department, to no principle.
Unz.org - full text in Encounter