As with a few previous examples of summaries, this one has been excerpted and adapted from another blog I maintain.
Joan DeJean's "A Long Eighteenth Century? What Eighteenth
Century?" which appears in the March 2012 issue of PMLA, bemoans the increasing presentism of foreign language
departments in the United States. DeJean does not claim any scientific rigor
or statistical validity, simply noting that "Enough of a trend emerged" from
those surveyed for the author "to feel that it was time to sound an alarm"
(317). The alarm derives from the increasing dearth of new hires--and of
faculty positions generally--in period specializations in pre-modern non-English
languages, although Italian manages to hold onto its "holy trinity--Dante,
Petrarch, Boccaccio" (317), and Spanish, because of other factors, has enough
enrollment to keep its variety to some extent (318). Even so, DeJean paints a
depressing picture, one which forebodes ill for the study of language in the
Presentism /prĕz'ĭnt*ĭzm/ (n.)- focus on the present and near past (within the last fifty to one hundred years), to the exclusion of earlier events