Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies

Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies

Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies

Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies

Synopsis

Scholars have long noted the role that college literary anthologies play in the rising and falling reputations of American authors. This book examines this classroom fixture in detail to challenge and correct a number of assumptions about the development of the literary canon throughout the 20th century.

Excerpt

Tom Quirk

Joseph Csicsila's Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies is an innovative piece of scholarship—provocative by implication, lucid in presentation, steady in judgment. What the author has done is to methodically drill test bores through strata of representations of American literature in eighty-plus anthologies from 1919 to 1999. By restricting his focus to a limited, but still significant, number of American writers and tracing their critical fortunes through these classroom textbooks, he is able to contest and even contradict a number of rash assumptions about canon formation, including polemical accusations of deliberate or inadvertent sexism and racism involving a long line of literary scholars and editors. No one in the future ought to be able to make overarching claims about the American literary canon without first checking out here the facts of the cases in question. For Csicsila's book describes in empirical fashion just what those facts are. What is more, he charts the fluctuations of literary reputation as they fared through three "generations" of anthologies. One risk the author ran in addressing the subject in these chronological layers was that his arguments would become repetitious as he traced author after author through generations of anthologies. But this is not the case. The prose is nuanced throughout and situates the critical trends within contempo-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.