Last week, I posted about questioning the literary canon, and got some fabulous responses. This week, we’ll look at two more arguments for/against the canon. As a refresher, the “Top 4” arguments were:
1. These texts are part of our literary heritage.
2. Great literature must stand the “test of time.”
3. Some books are truly just better than others.
4. The themes of great works transcend time and culture.
Source: The Center for Learning and Teaching of Literature
We discussed the first two arguments last week. Now it’s onto numbers 3 & 4!
3. Some books are truly just better than others. Arthur Krystal discusses embracing a plurality of texts in a recent article for the Chronicle of Higher Education called, “What do we lose if we lose the canon?”
“While there is nothing wrong (and perhaps something even right) in praising those whom previously we shunned, a law of diminishing returns kicks in once we stop making distinctions between the great and the good. It’s one thing to acknowledge the subjective factors of canon-building and another to obfuscate the aesthetic underpinnings of works created by human beings who invest time, skill, talent, and knowledge into making a novel or poem…. Some books simply reflect a deeper understanding of the world, of history, of human relationships, of literature itself than do other books….”
I do agree with his statement; I am in no way advocating that students read only what’s easy and popular at the time. However, while I agree that Continue reading