We at ARCHNblog have already highlighted over the last few weeks the many connections between Founders and Objectivism, and also, less formally, the Ayn Rand Institute. The Ayn Rand Institute, run by Rand's appointed intellectual heir Leonard Peikoff, is the seat of Objectivist orthodoxy, and encourages Rand's thought to be followed to the letter. Any deviation from Rand's views or personal criticism of Rand is strongly discouraged - an oft-noted irony for these apparent advocates of individualism. Is ARCHNblog's pursuit of these connections as bogus as Garmong claims? While many of the specifics of Founders curriculum are still vague, the outline of their Novels 1&2 curriculum is on-line, along with an outline of their Drama curriculum. We ran a detailed comparison between these two curriculums and Ayn Rand's own highly distinctive and well-recorded views on literature and drama from sources such as The Objectivist Reference Centre combined our own research. The result was an almost perfect match: (apologies for formatting in some browsers)
Founders College "What Ayn Rand Read"
Novels 1&2 Curriculum Objectivist Reference Centre
Victor Hugo Victor Hugo
Fyodor Dostoevsky Fyodor Dostoevsky
Nathaniel Hawthorne Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter The Scarlet Letter
Sienkiewicz, Quo Vadis Sienkiewicz Quo Vadis
Tolstoy Anna Karenina Tolstoy Anna Karenina
Thomas Wolfe Thomas Wolfe
Walter Scott Ivanhoe Walter Scott Ivanhoe
Alexander Dumas Alexandre Dumas
H.G. Wells H.G. Wells
Jules Verne Jules Verne
Calumet K Merwin&Webster Calumet 'K'
Mickey Spillane Mickey Spillane
Theodore Dreiser Theodore Dreiser
Sinclair Lewis Sinclair Lewis
Thomas Mann Thomas Mann
Margaret Mitchell, Margaret Mitchell,
Gone With the Wind Gone With The Wind
Novels 1&2 cont. Other References:
O. Henry O. Henry, (The Ayn Rand Column)
One of Rand's favourite writers
Donald Hamilton Donald Hamilton (Ayn Rand Column)
Balzac Balzac, (Romantic Manifesto)
John O’Hara John O’Hara,
Frederic Brown Frederic Brown, (Romantic Manifesto)
Kafka Kafka (Peikoff, Ominous Parallels)
The Scarlet Pimpernel "A...fiction hero loved by Rand"
We do not consider our above references are complete, and welcome any additional connections readers might note. However, what is astonishing is the sheer slavishness with which Ayn Rand's personal and often eccentric literary tastes have been followed by a College publicly purporting to offer a broad, objective (as opposed to Objectivist), liberal curriculum to its students.
However, remarkable as this is, it seems Founders College's Drama curriculum even manages to outdo the Novels course in intellectual forelock tugging. A comparison here shows that Founders Drama course has been lifted bodily from Ayn Rand Institute head Leonard Peikoff's "Eight Great Plays," along with a couple of firmly Ayn Rand-approved extras and of course a couple of Rand's own plays.
Founders College "Eight Great Plays"
Drama Curriculum Leonard Peikoff course
Le Cid Le Cid
Don Carlos Don Carlos
An Enemy of the People An Enemy of the People
Saint Joan (G.B. Shaw) Saint Joan, G. B. Shaw
Monna Vanna Monna Vanna
Cyrano de Bergerac Cyrano de Bergerac
Founders Drama cont. "What Ayn Rand Read"
The Browning Version The Browning Version
The Winslow Boy The Winslow Boy
Founders Drama cont. Other ref.
The Miracle Worker "the only epistemological play
ever written."- Ayn Rand
Night of January 16th Ayn Rand
Ideal (unproduced) Ayn Rand
Once again we have an almost perfect match, with the only exception being Aristophanes "The Clouds" from Founders list (Aristophanes is however lectured on by the Ayn Rand Institute's Robert Mayhew, so presumably he is approved). One also notes that Ayn Rand, a minor playwright even by the most generous standards, gets no less than two plays in Founders drama curriculum - one of which, "Ideal" was never even produced. Shakespeare, or George Bernard Shaw, by comparison, only get one.
So despite the strong claims of the college's principals, it seems that once again the parallels between Founders, Objectivism, and the Ayn Rand Institute are all too obvious. So far I have emailed Professor Garmong inviting him to answer some direct questions about his claims, but he has not responded. I have also emailed Founders College's PR company seeking further contact information. They have also yet to respond. Certainly as far as Professor Garmong is concerned, it seems it is he himself who is either "ignorant" of his own College's stated curriculum, or is misrepresenting it. We also note that Bryan Niblett, Dean of the Faculty and teaching Writing and Literature is one of the staff who does not appear to have any overt connection to Objectivism or the ARI to date. We would be most interested in Professor Niblett's comments on the subject.