The Literary Canon of a Country or a Group of People Is Comprised of a Body of Works That Are Highly Valued by Scholars and Others Because of Their Aesthetic Value and Because They Embody the Cultural and Political Values of Essay

962 WordsAug 1, 20144 Pages
The literary canon of a country or a group of people is comprised of a body of works that are highly valued by scholars and others because of their aesthetic value and because they embody the cultural and political values of that society. Works belonging to the canon become institutionalized over time by consistently being taught in the schools as the core curriculum for literary study. As critic Herbert Lindenberger, among others, has pointed out, the process of canon formation and evolution is influenced by cultural and historical change, and the English and American canons have regularly undergone revision throughout the centuries. In the twentieth century, for example, the English and American canons in the United States were challenged in the 1920s by Jewish intellectuals like Lionel Trilling and Oscar Handlin who became important Ivy League scholars, and again in the 1960s, when sweeping cultural change brought the concerns of women, minorities, gays, and Marxist liberals to the forefront of literary study. Most recently, a reexamination of the American and English literary canons took place in the 1980s. Within academe, the European white male author model had already been thoroughly criticized during the 1960s and 1970s. Many works by women, gays, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and non-Europeans had made their way into college literature courses. However, the question of their permanent status as canonical works still remained to be decided: should they become a required and consistent part of the college curriculum, informed by the literary canon? This question has been hotly debated both by academics and non-academics since the early 1980s. The Modern Language Association sponsored special sessions on the canon during their annual conventions; scholars hotly debated the issue in the New York Times and the London

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