Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
DWEM is an acronym standing for "Dead White European Male", a pejorative term used most commonly in reference to noted caucasian European males from the past. Particularly implied were such figures as Plato, Dante, Christopher Columbus, William Shakespeare and Isaac Newton.
It began as an off-hand reference used to protest a perceived bias in favor of such figures, in the curriculum of the educational system of the US. It had a more specific reference, to the content of compulsory early college courses, which defined 'civilisation' on a narrow or hasty basis.
This bias was seen as limiting study for political or social reasons. Critics of the traditional curriculum argued that it enshrined a particular world view and that it valued older European history, for example over more recent American achievements. They also often implied that it was subconsciously racist and sexist.
The term DWEM was subsequently adopted by defenders of the traditional curriculum. Such supporters saw the "dead white European males" in question as being obviously more worthy of study than any rival figures.
Defenders of traditional curricula are often also supporters of the accepted canon of English and European-language literature. They often characterise proposed curriculum change as largely motivated by politics and social reasons. They argue that to dismiss any thinker or writer as a DWEM, and solely for that reason, cannot be a valid comment on the actual content.
More sharply, the term DWEM is sometimes employed satirically to characterise an opposing viewpoint as mainly irrelevant ad hominem argument. This approach has joined the repertoire of calling criticism 'political correctness', or defending a historical figure or event as being subject to academic attacks by 'liberal intellectual's. It strengthens those points, since it speaks to the fallacious nature of ad hominem, rather than itself relying on fallacies.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details