Monday, February 9, 2009
For the purposes of academic analysis and education, a class could use any form of literature from a newspaper article to Shakespeare. The purpose of a canon, however, is to celebrate the classic elite of literature. It would be ignorant to think that only dead white men could be capable of writing works of enough quality to be canonized. However, I also believe that works by other nationalities or genders should not be canonized solely based on their gender or race. This would be just as ignorant to the other extreme. On the other hand there are some authors, who because of their race or gender in the time they were alive, are more impressive in their writing. For example, I believe that Frederick Douglass should be canonized based on the eloquence and skill of his writing alone, but it is even more impressive that he was capable of writing such masterpieces as a man who was enlaved for a large part of his life in one of the cruelest slavery systems in the history of the world. We all have our own preferences and styles. In the end, think that those who are included in a canon will always be so on the basis of subjective reasoning. People decide for themselves what should be canonized and what should not. In the end it does not really matter anyway, because the point of reading literature is to be able to analyze and think for one's self to determine the meaning and moral of a work. A student can do this with any literary work. I do not believe that a student will learn how to think significantly better by reading one author over another as long as they are pushing themselves to learn and interpret for themselves.
Posted by Nick Durm at 5:01 PM