Expanding the Literary Canon

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Expanding the Literary Canon

While this essay can in no way claim to contain a fully representative sampling of what various scholars have contributed relative to the ongoing debate over the literary canon, I will attempt to highlight three distinct positions which are all informed by John Guillory's critical contributions to the canonical debate. First, I will discuss the concept of ideology and canon formation as Guillory first articulated it in his 1983 essay, "The Ideology of Canon Formation: T. S. Eliot and Cleanth Brooks," and which he subsequently thoroughly revised and included in his 1993 book on canon formation, Cultural Capital: The Problem of literary Canon Formation This essay on the ways ideology and cultural politics complicates and informs canon formation, also discusses Guillory's theory concerning the death Joe Weixlmann who offers his own commentary concerning how ideology and politics of literary orthodoxy in favor of a more democratically situated heterodoxy, and how this concept of a heterodoxy might inform the university's literary curriculum. Next, Christopher Ricks' essay, 'What is at stake in the "battle of the books"?" will be analyzed to determine if his attack on Guillory's assertions relative to his critique of the current status of the canonical debate contributes in any meaningful way to opinions about whether or not the literary canon should be revised. Finally, the several critics who have now offered commentary on Guillory's latest theories on canon formation as articulated in Cultural Capital will be discussed relative to how influential they perceive Guillory's latest work to be as it pertains to the ongoing debate over the nature of the extant literary canon.

Guillory begins "The Ideol...

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Guillory, John. "The Ideology of Canon-Formation: T.S. Eliot and Cleanth Brooks." Critical Inquiry. 10 (1('3~) 144-176.

Guillory, John. Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1993

Readings, Bill. Rev. of Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation: by John Guillory. Modern Language Quarterly. 55:3 (1994) 321-326

Ricks, Christopher. "What is at stake in the "battle of the books"?," The New Criterion. (1989) 40-44

Robbins, Bruce. "'Real Politics' and the Canon Debate." Rev. of Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation by John Guillory. Contemporary Literature 35 (1994) 365-375

Roberts, Lynn. Personal interview conducted 13 March 1996

Weixlmann, Joe. "Dealing with the Demands of an Expanding Literary Canon." College English 50 (1988) 273-283

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