Talk:Dead white men

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Untitled[edit]

"Critics of the term have alleged that it aims to reject people or ideas on the grounds of race or sex" -- does this need to be stated? Racism and sexism are explicit, inherent in the phrase itself! Does it also need to be pointed out that "males" refers to "men"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 12.49.221.194 (talk) 23:22, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Squirling! big time! SOME SOME SOME THERE ARE THOSE etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 65.95.32.89 (talk) 16:50, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

I think "Dead White Males" is a great term to define the lack of knowledge of how we as a world population came to see ourselves. I've always been taught that "Dead White Males" were the only resource of creativity and innovation, when it, by just the mere fact of probability, could not be true. Maybe the term should be "Dead White Males Who Claim Originality".


Do you faggots really need to put citation placeholders everywhere? Write it on the talk page or take it off for christ sake. I'm pretty sure I remember wikipedia bitching about this too. 00:23, 21 May 2008 (UTC)


Anybody else get the feeling that this term is sexist, racist and, well, vitalist?

-- of course it is. But that won't stop them. "you deserve it, whitie" is the rallying cry of modern racists.
Some days I feel like I should put everything I say in between big <joke> tags, HTML-style. For example, <joke>this sentence is not serious</joke>. Anville 03:53, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

I watched 10 Things I Hate About You for a class studying Shakespeare in film. Other than this article, I haven't found any benefit from that experience. Sigh—the things we do for literature. Anville 20:16, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

vitalist? terry pratchett fan?144.139.143.152 13:58, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

How can a beatnik compare to Plato? Seriously, what are these leftists smoking? --Onias 17:22, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

This article seems to be highly biased towards the right and the current souces don't even attempt to hide the fact that they're editorials; Indeed, the majority of the article is actually spent criticizing and debating the concept. A lot of work certainly needs to be done to turn the page into a more encyclopedic and unbiased state. --LunarMoon 13:06, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Why not just Dead Males?[edit]

After all, we're talking about WESTERN culture here, not Chinese, Arabic etc etc. Of course it is going to be dominated by Europeans when Western = European for hundreds and hundreds of years. The argument is an appeal to itself. It is circular.

If you want to debate anything, debate the fact that European (Western) FEMALES are underrepresented in Western Canon.

noobs. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.139.135.89 (talk) 20:27, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

The addition of "white" to the phrase may be the result of two factors: 1) the delayed addition of any serious study of the great Asian and Middle Eastern cultures (much less the radically different indigenous cultures of Africa and South America) to the undergraduate curriculum and 2) the delayed addition of the contributions of American blacks, Indians, Asians, Latinos and Middle Easterners to the classroom. The first problem may well be that we were only talking about WESTERN culture and excluding the study of Chinese and Arabic thought, literature, etc. The second problem is that even after non-white Westerners had clearly made substantial contributions, they were not being taught, or were only being taught as exceptions rather than as indicative of an entire group of people within the population. Phillis Wheatley and Samson Occom were both published in the late 1700s, but it wasn't until the 1970s that African American and Native American studies were given any serious place in the academy. FWIW. Aristophanes68 (talk) 19:10, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
The phrase is just an anti-white combat term created by certain groups within academia to push multiculturalist propaganda. No one blames the Chinese or Japanese for focusing on their own heritage as Europeans and Americans are blamed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 91.49.253.184 (talk) 23:24, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

"Dead African-American Males"[edit]

Ron David, in his book Jazz for Beginners, described the trend towards celebrating the history of jazz at the expense of the music's current development as an undue focus on "Dead African-American Males". This term has gained some currency amongst those critical of the formation of a jazz canon and the general treatment of jazz today as purely a past tense phenomenon. Just as the term "dead white males" is used to describe the literary canon, so this term is gaining currency as a description of the jazz canon.

Merge[edit]

Could this be merged with DWEM and the redirect at dead white males updated? This article has non-Wiki-standard capitalization in the title. --Wtshymanski 05:46, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Actually it would be better to find an umbrella term that is on one level of further abstraction. E.g. Negative characterisations of the European tradition. Charles Matthews 10:43, 30 July 2005 (UTC)
How about criticism of Eurocentrism as an umbrella title? Charles Matthews 11:12, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
I think that the phrase "dead white males" is noteworthy enough to have an article on its own, in addition to any articles about Eurocentrism and its critics. Would anyone object to moving the article to dead white males (currently a redirect), in accordance with standard Wikipedia article naming? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 23:49, 12 February 2006 (UTC)
I've performed the move, and fixed all the redirects and links, except for those on talk pages and one reference to the play Dead White Males, which I figure can remain as a redirect since it is a proper name. If the play ever gets its own page, it can be split off to Dead White Males (play). —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 18:57, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Unless there is notable citation evidence of the use of the term, and I do not see that in the article now, this article should be deleted or merged with DWEM, which has a longer provenance in the literature. As it is, the article seems to be more of an internet bulletin board for opposing positions to be aired on yet another open-access internet forum. The article as is is not encyclopedic. N2e 13:53, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Sources, if any?[edit]

I am highly suspicious that the expression DWEM or any of its cognates were ever used seriously by anyone on the left. Much like 'political correctness,' it seems like a shibboleth, created by right-wing culture warriors in the 1990s, to make anyone proposing a leftist critique of pedagogy look hystrionic and venal. As someone who was very much on the left, and very much in academia, I never heard myself or my colleagues use either DWEM or political correctness in a serious way. Both terms are shot through with precisely the kind of essentialism and narrow-mindedness that 'left-wing' (but really just open-minded and self-reflective) thinkers have always been critical of.

Vague gesturing at 'some critics' in the 1990s isn't enough to substantiate that this term was ever used as claimed. Can't you cite even one article where this term was used in earnest by a left-wing academic, and not sarcastically by a right-wing culture mercenary? If you can't, I think you need to at least raise the possibility that the whole thing might be a bit of a hoax to discredit critical theorists on the left.

To the above undated and unsigned message poster: Sorry to burst your bubble but I personally have heard this phrase on numerous occasions. Never by right-wing culture warriors/mercenaries whoever they are, but repeatedly by people emphasising their rejection of high culture in both the Arts and the Sciences, typically without offering a credible alternative, though. It is often used to provoke and encourage retaliation. As for 'political correctness', you may not know but it is often used as a cloak in progressive circles and a tool to emphasise greater tolerance that in fact is just as intolerant as the terms it seeks to supplant. In English-speaking countries other than US, it is commonly seen as an attempt by the USA to export its divisive culture wars.--AssegaiAli 20:06, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

trivia/pop culture[edit]

I changed the quote from 10 Things I Hate About You from "knows his stuff" to "knows his shit" because that's what the quote is; this is not vandalism, it's accuracy. 71.76.135.102 20:15, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Pejorative?[edit]

Sorry. I removed this point as the term is not pejorative. If the author was referring to a dead, white and european male, then the term 'dead white european male' is not pejorative. It is factual. --Nukemason 16:33, 13 Aug 2006

I have also made some modifications to who made the most contributions to mathematics and science during the 20th century (I think that everyone agrees it disproportionately involved individuals of Jewish descent - specifically, the Ashkenazim). Anyone, I don't believe that this is an anti-semitic remark. The following site is a good source of info here :

http://www.jinfo.org/Mathematics_Comp.html

I'm happy to have this removed. Though if it's true, I don't see why is should be...

--Nukemason 16:33, 13 Aug 2006

I have to disagree. The word "dead" serves two purposes -- first, to indicate that the people in question are dead literally; second, to present the people in question as irrelevant. I have never seen the term used in a positive fashion, as in "We really value the contributions of dead white males." Does the word "dead" fit in that sentence? I think it makes it sound ironic or sarcastic. If you really meant it, you would say "We really value the contributions of these white male historical figures." In my experience, I have primarily seen it is used in a pejorative sense, as in "This is nothing but the legacy of dead white males", except in cases like this talk page where there is a discussion about the term itself. Stdarg 15:56, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

History and usage: sources?[edit]

The second paragraph of this section in particular seems to be conjectural and is supported by no sources. What is the basis for claiming that school now ignore the accomplishment of dead white european males "almost entirely?" The claim that discussions of war (in a high school history setting) ignore Robert E. Lee and focus on peripheral historical figures is used as an example in a rather un-encyclopedic manner. I never heard the DWM term in any classes I've taken, whether in high school (in America and Europe) nor in Universtiy classes. It seems like this may be backlash against attempts that some school districts are taking to emphasize the importance of non-white or female historical figures, but to say that all white males are "almost entirely" eliminated from curricula seems inaccurate. I have mostly come across the term in media sources and, most recently, in wikipedia.Melancholia i 02:17, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Massive Rewrite Needed[edit]

I'm going to be bold and take out some of the silliest remarks in here. The idea that dead white males are "ignored completely" is insane, and I defy anyone to find a widely-used textbook which doesn't still focus on white males. Certainly there is more focus on marginalized people than ever before, but not anywhere approaching the exclusion of dead white males. Very, very few high-school classes use, for example, Howard Zinn's People's History of the US, which has a lot less about dead white males than most history books. But even Zinn's book has a significant number of dead white men (probably a majority of the book is discussing the history of white men).

Also, the idea that it came out of "political correctness" is a very silly idea, and the only citation of that "fact" is from an opinion piece from a very right-wing journal. The article that the citation comes from is explicitly against the idea of DWEM, so I'm not sure it's the best place to cite.

This whole article is pretty agressively against the topic of the article, which leads me to think that maybe there needs to be a little more diversity represented in the people who are writing the article. Hopefully I've improved it a little, and removed some of the more outlandish claims. I'm not great at the whole wikipedia thing, so hopefully someone who is a more eloquent writer/better editor will tidy up my contributions and improve on this pretty poor article. 24.218.218.249 18:48, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Rally Cry For Racial Socialism : "You Deserve It, Whitie!"[edit]

Ah! Well, I felt that I should be at least a little satirical here. There is at least one concession that I felt that I should make here - which is that the Dead White Europeans named here have been pretty good at at least some of their jobs. Surely whites have been the greatest imperialists, and catalysts of military preparedness and change across most of the coloured world! Afterall, would China have bothered developing nuclear weapons were it not for the fact that it had the crap bombed out of it during the 1970s? Would India have bothered developing nuclear bombs (with, of course, the obvious will and intent to use them wherever economical) were it not for its imperial history (and, possibly, the ever so slightly unfortunate fates of local neighbours like Vietnam?). Would Russia have turned into the superpower that it became were it not for white National Socialists? Answer - no to all of the above. That's cool isn't it? All these coloured folk should be THANKING these DWEMs for showing them the true nature of reality - that all that matters is POWER.

So, here, I give a salutation to all these DWEMs - I salute you! Now back to work....

NukeEmALL 22:52, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

The problem with your amusing POV is that India and China did not 'develop' nuclear weapons but rather aquired them through nuclear proliferation. Where India get them? no one knows for sure, but almost certainly from another country. China received them from the Soviet Union which aquired the technology through spies in the US. Where did the US get nuclear weapons? they were developed by German scientists who defected from Germany. There you have it. All these 'developments' around the world come essentially from one place. The place of 'dead white europeans.' What will happen when those old decadent European bastards die off? I'd imagine once the source of all such 'developments' dries up the world will begin to revert right back to its primative past and nothing resembling civilization will remain. Such is the price that must be paid for ignorance, and Europeans will either realize these truths or perish. Such is the will of nature. --Nazrac 05:28, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

According to your reasoning, only the Germans should get credit, not all Europeans (and by extension Euro Americans). Extending your logic of attributing ultimate credit to those societies in which certain developments first arise, then shouldn't credit go to Middle Easterners, Indians and the Chinese, whose innovations provided the basis of European "invention" during the Middle Ages? I'm sure you don't want to do that, because you'll soon admit that Europeans, like all peoples, don't invent in a vacuum; they borrow from others and make changes according to what their societies need. Read a book. Kemet 00:59, 8 July 2007 (UTC)
Also, please note that while there were some German scientistist working on "the bomb," not all of the lead scientists were German. American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was in charge of research, Sir John Cockcroft (British) and Ernest Walton (Irish) were first to "split the atom" (cause a nuclear reaction), and many other American and European were involved in the project. The German scientists that emigrated during and following the war contributed much more to the development of rocket technology.

Remove Tag?[edit]

There have been a lot of improvements to this article, and I think most of the POV issues are now fixed. Certainly the article isn't perfect; there is some redundancy and many missing citations. However, I think there is now a balance of the two sides and the language is more civil. Does anyone still find this article POV? If so, what specifically needs work? SomethingFamiliar 23:04, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Stub Article, Redirect to Eurocentrism[edit]

I'm not sure that POV is the issue - its uncited, generally original research-ish material only. I thing that a general statement of the idea at the top, with at least one or two good references, should be all that this article contains until someone takes the time to reference all the other claims. If there are no objections, I will stub the article this week. AvruchTalk 17:59, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Are you proposing to stub the article or to make it a redirect to Eurocentrism? I would oppose the latter.--BirgitteSB 19:39, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
The cite tags are only a month old. I would oppose a major reduction in size, though some sections are dubious - although having said that I think it is very unlikely that they could not be properly referenced, given the nature of many academic contributions to this debate. Removed material should be posted here. Johnbod (talk) 19:48, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I think either a formal redirect, or a stub with a 'See also' would work - we don't need to transfer article text to the talk page to preserve anything, its all in the edit history. Alternatively, if you'd like to maintain the article to continue working on this version, you could recreate in your userspace. I'm not convinced that citing this article appropriately with reliable sources will be easy - I think the colloquial nature of 'dead white men' means that it isn't generally referred to that way academically or in the media. AvruchTalk 21:29, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Don't redirect it; there is nothing "European" about being male or dead. I added some of the sources in. The main problem with referencing is an overabundance of hits. Anyone with access to a database restricted to good sources should make short work of it.--BirgitteSB 21:35, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
You left out 'white.' Eurocentrism is pretty closely identified with the Great Man style of history. In any event, I personally think unreferenced content should be removed and then added with references, so that the text contains an accurate summary of a the reference rather than the authors opinion and shoehorned citations. AvruchTalk 21:44, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
That because unlike the other items "European" does correlate with white. I can hardly argue that your opinion is different than what you claim. Just don't act on in the face of objections.--BirgitteSB 22:18, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

(un-indent) That is the crux, isn't it? I think the article should say what is verifiably true, and WP:verify and WP:RS would seem to agree. The other side to that is that the article should not say what is not verifiably true. The appropriate course of action, then, would be to remove what is not referenced and write additional text only with appropriate citation. You disagree? Why? AvruchTalk 23:35, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

No, I think the article should say what is verifiably true. I just find your suggested course of action to be beyond the "verifiable article" supported by policy and more towards the "fully cited article" end of the spectrum. That is out of sync with current practice on Wikipedia. But I am not necessarily opposed to you rewriting the article. Go for it in your userspace and lets have a look.--BirgitteSB 18:03, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm not confident that rewriting a significant non-stub article using reliable sources is possible. Either way, the burden of verification of contested material is on the editor(s) supporting its inclusion, per WP:Verify. Without sources, much of this article appears to be original research. This article has been tagged for improvement since 2006. I'm not willing to allow it to remain in its current state if no one who believes the material should remain is willing to provide citations for its claims of fact. AvruchTalk 20:57, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that is better, though a half-way course between the old examples and none might be better. Johnbod (talk) 22:25, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I also think it is better, so please update the current article. I think specific examples should be added back in with citations in the future. These lists just grow out of control, without being strict that the examples are notable to the concept. One thing that might deserve future attention is a small section on "Dead white man on a horse".--BirgitteSB 15:20, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Edward Said, a DWM? Perhaps this is some massive in-joke, but Edward Said was a Palestinian American born to Palestinian parents. He was instrumental in the modern discussion of considering the western perspective of authors who write about eastern cultures. Calling him a DWM is like calling W.E.B. DuBois a DWM. Maybe Susan B. Anthony was also a DWM? Perhaps dead men that are actually white are rubber, and Edward Said is glue? 24.63.210.87 (talk) 06:41, 20 May 2008 (UTC)


POV and sloppy[edit]

This artcile is highly bent towards the POV of people who oppose the term, not to mention the criticism addresses a strawman version of the definition. That is in addition to being uncited and poorly explained. NeoApsara (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 11:51, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

Great Man Theory versus Great Books, and other problems[edit]

I think it's a problem to conflate Great Man Theory to the Great Books curriculum. Great Man Theory is something Thomas Carlyle dreamed up, as a model of history that credible academics do not use. Critics of this theory are varied and widely-considered reasonable; indeed, GMT has been on the way out for a century or so. Great Books, on the other hand, is the Closing of the Western Mind critique. Dead White Men, I think, is a relevant criticism here.

I think some of the Who? and citation tags should be removed, because they're overly-hostile. I do not believe it is actually controversial that many academics believe the Western Canon is overly-white or overly-dead (i.e. Eurocentric and biased towards old, irrelevant theories). The whole thing, though, is written in passive voice, and that's frustrating. But the "Who?" tag is for indicating the possibility of contradiction--i.e. that maybe the people who believe, say, the Western Canon is Eurocentric are fringe--when in fact this should be cited and parties identified merely to strengthen the article, provide more information, and to avoid eyebrow-raising, bad sentence structure. I'll look for citations tomorrow, and play with the wording, but this is my nod to discussing it first.98.16.26.157 (talk) 21:11, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

who says that Great Men theory has to do with Dead white males?[edit]

if this non-obvious claim is advanced in the article, then where are the sources for it? Because on the face of it, "dead white males" is about hating and rejecting intellectual heritage of white people (most of those who left any heritage being male) whereas Great Men are notable individuals of any given culture. There were great men among Chinese, Indians and Africans, and one could argue that they did or did not have a major historical impact on their countries - this would be relevant to that theory but not to the dead white males topic. 76.119.30.87 (talk) 21:43, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Removed - Sculpture[edit]

Sculptor Janet Scudder had DWM's roles as subjects for sculpture in mind when she wrote, "I won't add to this obsession of male egotism that is ruining every city in the U.S. with rows of hideous statues of men-men-men- each one uglier than the other-standing, sitting, riding horseback-everyone of them pompously convinced that he is decorating the landscape." [Removed - Sculpture 1]

  1. ^ Connor, Janis and Joel Rosenkranz, ‘’Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works 1893-1939’’, University of Texas Press, Aurtin, 1989 p. 154

Scudder died in 1940, the quote (ultimately from "Modeling My Life" (1925)) does not support her presciently objecting to DWMs - simply to repetitive representational forms, I believe she accepted the commission to celebrate Longfellow, simply preferring a different form (fountains). In any case she was an avid fan of his. All the best: Rich Farmbrough01:03, 12 June 2014 (UTC).

I continue to be surprised and amazed by the objection to this section. Sculpture of real people in the United States is almost universally of dead, white males. Carptrash (talk) 18:27, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

Not Mysterious[edit]

The three words are easy English. If the phrase "Dead black men", "Dead yellow men", "Dead red men" or "Dead green men" are offensive, you might be the target audience. Those affected might wish to read this reference from the article. 50.0.75.4 (talk) 03:59, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Categorization[edit]

Category:Dead people is a container cat (subcats only, no articles), so I'm hoping someone well versed on the topic can move the article into an appropriate subcat. --Slivicon (talk) 23:02, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

Merge with Western canon[edit]

This topic is just one aspect of a broader discussion covered by the article Western canon. Therefore, are there any objections to merge this article with that one? Rwood128 (talk) 17:01, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

As there has been no objections, I will complete the merge shortly. Rwood128 (talk) 11:04, 21 April 2016 (UTC)