Monday, December 4th, 2017...8:36 pmwatsono

Reevaluating the Canon, Recovering the Forgotten

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John Guillory’s 1995 essay “Canon” considers the process of canonization or selecting texts that are conventionally considered classics, “one aspect of a much larger history of the ways in which societies have organized and regulated practices of reading and writing (it is perhaps an illusion of our own age to believe that we are simply free to read and write whatever, whenever, and however we wish)” (239). This regulation of reading, writing, and certainly thinking has historically disadvantaged and constrained female authors – particularly because their literary education was deemed less valuable. This theory of canonization thus does not only depend on aesthetic judgments about the significance of a text but more importantly how it operates within the social practices and expectations of its society.

For both the Celtic Revival and Harlem Renaissance, literature has long been metonymized with male, literary giants whose contributions prevail as most significant within education systems. This is not to say that women have been entirely excluded from the canon, but their voices have certainly been overshadowed. Both movements engage with female authors who assert their gendered identity in relation to their particular landscape; yet the curriculum of secondary education continues to focalize around a primarily male perspective. Therefore, this anthology intends to recover the female authors of these distinct movements of revival and renewal, whose voices were necessary and increasingly equipped with the education to defend the landscapes they were built upon through writing.  


Question: I want my anthology to focus on education…did I weave this in enough here?


  •   Charlotte Hayden
    December 6th, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I think the question you need to ask yourself is what facet of education you’re talking about: what we’re taught in high school? How education shapes who we think of when we hear the term “Harlem Renaissance?” What it does to our conception of the movement to only study and remember male authors’ representations of the movement? There is a lot of nuance and possibility in “education” as a topic, and I think the more you explore those nuances, the more interesting and complex your paper will become.

  • This is such a cool idea! I like how you lead with the discussion of the essay “Canon”, i was curious to read more and see the connection to this anthology you are creating. I think the theme of education is definitely laced throughout your intro. My question is: will you name your writers in the intro or is that best placed into your subsequent paragraph?

  •   Professor Seiler
    December 8th, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Olivia–a classic (in the best sense) feminist project emerges, with an intriguing new focus on landscape/space.

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