The Importance Of Literary Canon

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Literary Canon Controversy Students enrolled in high school English courses should not have to adhere to a specific literary canon, as there should be some variance in what students read from school to school. Many countries have a set literary canon that requires all high school students to read the same books, no matter what school they go to because these books are deemed important. In the United States there is not a national curriculum, so the texts that students read may be different at different schools. Whether or not a canon should be implemented is a topic that is commonly discussed, and one that is associated with controversy. Literary canons, with most of their works being written by white males, have a lack of cultural diversity. …show more content…
Names common in literature include, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Some common characteristics among these writers are that they are all white males. One of the biggest controversies with the literary canon is its lack of cultural diversity. Women and minority groups are typically underrepresented in literary canons. According to Kira Isak, “research has found that multicultural literature is a valuable learning tool”. Literature that comes from different perspectives, from different countries, and different backgrounds is vital to the education of young people. Having diversity in school literature is important because it gives insight into cultures and traditions that students might otherwise not know about. Moreover, according to Maria Boles, “Minority students feel recognized and understood when their culture is acknowledged”. Having cultural diversity in literature will provide a more engaging environment for students as they will be learning about new things from a perspective that is different from what is typically taught. When students are confined to reading a set list of books mainly written by white males, they are restricted from the other cultures and perspectives that the world has to offer. Keeping a literary canon out of the United States curriculum will help prevent this restriction …show more content…
Most people who argue in favor of the canon feel that the works listed in the canon are the only books that are worth reading and teaching to students. According to Alex Quigley, author of the article “Teaching and Learning the Literary Canon”, “We should share great works of literature with all of our students”. It is agreed that students should learn about “great works of literature”, but what constitutes great literature is very much opinion based. Teachers should be able to decide for themselves which works of literature contain the history and tradition that they feel is the most beneficial for students to learn. Additionally Quigley states that he is, “of the belief that pretty much no literary text is beyond any student”. As stated before, different schools across the country have different resources and students with different capabilities, therefore the thought of a piece of literature being beyond some students is not incredible. Requiring students to read literature that is incomprehensible to them provides no benefit to anyone. If students do not understand the literature that they are reading, it will be even more difficult for them to grasp the history and traditions that can be found within the work. Implementing a literary canon would restrict students from learning about unconventionally great

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