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Reassigned Time: Canon Formation and Ghettoes in Literary Studies

April 12, 2006

I posted the following comment to Dr. Crazy’s exploration of the Canon and women’s writing. I will explore in more depth when I get some time:

I don’t think there is much value in discussing the relative merits of male versus female writers (insert ghetto group of choice) as all discussions are, to be precise, relative.

I think the idea you are moving towards, if I may be so bold, is one of canon formation and time. The time aspect, which I will blogwhoring write more in my own blog, it seems, is central. There is simply, given the current structure and orientation, not enough class time for everyone or everything. So, what choices will be made?

I think that if academia is to get serious about opening the canon, then it should be done NOT with specialized courses (at least not in undergrad, and should be used sparingly in grad) but with longer, more inclusive surveys. Instead of restricting American lit to pre and post Civil War, which takes a full academic year, why not 4 classes where there is more time to explore all manner of texts (critically acclaimed AND those not so much).

But wait, we can’t add more required hours…then shift the requirements within the hours allotted. That is, instead of requiring 6 hours of Brit Lit & 6 of Am Lit, require 12 continuous hours of one over the other. The student would have to choose between Emma and Huck Finn, but with 12 hours to explore over-looked texts, the context of said texts could be better established (impact of patriarchy, need for voice, etc.) and explored.

What I am saying is instead of factionalizing the lit., exploring it in larger context with more players…and if you need to cut out a large segment for the general undergrad (say Brit. Lit., World Lit., etc.), then so be it.

What do you think?

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