A literature course was proposed as a humanities credit. The course was an examination of children’s literature, and two of the required readings were Harry Potter and the Giver. Albeit children’s literature can certainly be studied at the college level, the idea that this course, or others like it, is appropriate for a humanities credit in a state funded college is not (remember, this is my opinion) debatable.
My perception: my interpretation of college level humanities courses is that reading requirements should provide students the opportunity to explore ideas and perspectives that they have not previously explored (e.g., Dialogues of Plato, The Divine Comedy, etc.) – not rereading books they read as children for pleasure or were required to read in middle school. As an example, my humanities course was World Religions, which had required readings of The Book of Mormon, The Tipitaka, The Quran, and The Talmud. While I believe the proposed course seemed interesting and worthy of college credit (just as the canoeing course I took as an undergraduate), it did not meet the standards that we have come to expect of our core courses.
Public perception: in the current political environment in our country, colleges are already getting a bad reputation for numerous activities (whether they are real or perceived is for another discussion). To have a state funded community college offer a course with a reading list that includes Harry Potter and the Giver as alternatives to Conduct of Understanding and War and Peace, will lose in public opinion every time. Picture the headlines: “In an effort to increase student success, IRSC dumps the Dialogues for Harry Potter” or “Student earns a C in Grade 7 Literature, but earns an A in College Literature, while reading the same book: second time’s the charm.”
The Curriculum Committee did approve the course as an elective, but not as a humanities course – by unanimous vote. It certainly augmented my faith in the process and my colleagues.