Understanding the Literary Cannon and How It Pertains to This Course

In my ENGL 203 course, we have been taking a look at literary theories, and one of them pertains to this course that I thought I would share with you all. One of the theories, ethnic studies, states that “You can thank literary theory and criticism for much of the positive change that has occurred over the past few decades. Students are still assigned works by many of the “dead white European males” that used to monopolize reading lists, but those students are now likely to be assigned books by Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison or Amy Tan alongside with those by Charles Dickens or John Milton”. If you take a look at the first name in that list of authors, you’ll notice Toni Morrison’s name among the list. What this quote from the book is saying that we owe reading Home this semester, to the literary canon, which is known as the change in the collection of texts read in classrooms.

This term literary canon often reflects national culture, which is another way this term relates to this course. It talks about how some people view culture as a  broad collection of a countries practices, while others see culture as a kind of goal or ideal. That second view of culture reminds me of our journey through this course. We took a look at several pieces of literature this semester on the topic of how racism has played into medical treatments and consent, with a goal in mind of raising awareness on this topic. Books such as Home illustrated examples of consent within the text and illustrated topics we looked at in Medical Apartheid to life. We owe being able to dive into such a topic due to the literary canon, as it has changed into reading texts that encourage discussion and questioning.


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