BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA: WAR OF WORDS

ARE THE GREAT BOOKS RACIST, SEXIST, HOMOPHOBIC? A LOT OF PROFESSORS SAY SO. NOW SOME OTHERS ARE SAYING, ENOUGH!

If visitors still pause at People's Park, straining for a whiff of the tear gas that drifted off long ago, they will be disappointed. Berkeley, Calif., is in no danger of becoming the colonial Williamsburg of the student revolution. Grass-roots activism doesn't leave much behind in the way of bricks and mortar. What has survived is the politics that once tied the place in knots. So Professor Robert Alter, one of the nation's best-known literary scholars, finds himself an officer in the culture war over the Western canon.

Alter is president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics (ALSC), a...

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