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    Defining Classic Literature and Dismantling the White Male Canon

    A question that has been brought up quite a few times in my literature classes is how to change the canon to include more diverse literature. First, we need to define what makes a "classic" a "classic." Is it that they were written so long ago and people still read them? Or does the novel hold something else entirely? Another aspect I have noticed when reading or browsing over deemed classic novels is how male dominated the canon is. Yes, we have Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters and Alcott and Harper Lee, but overall, female authors are few and far between in the original canon. White male authors dominate. Why is that? How does the dismantling begin? Does it need to happen or should we simply leave the canon well enough alone?

    • Another question to add to the list of why "classics" are dominated by white male authors might be: to what extent do the market forces acting on and created by a publishing "industry" leave the canon relatively untouched by anyone outside the DWM (dead white male) zone? – pjoshualaskey 8 years ago

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    Latest Comments


    I definitely need to find this article. I just recently graduated with my masters in literature and after two years of academic writing, I have had difficulty getting back into creative writing. Thank you for this post!

    Essential Books for Writers

    I loved your article! I haven’t read Jane Eyre in a while, but your article brings back all the lovely feelings I had while reading it. I do have one question, though. How do you reconcile Jane’s feminism and her disregard for Bertha Mason throughout the novel? As feminism is supposed to be advocating for all women, how does Jane come to terms with her husband’s mistreatment of his first wife and literally distinguishing her the madwoman in the attic? I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. I have somewhat recently read Wide Sargasso Sea, which details Rochester’s meeting with his first wife, and I have such a different opinion of him now. Anyway, thank you for posting this article! It was such a great and enlightening read.

    Analyzing Jane Eyre as a Contemporary "Bad Feminist"

    I’ve taught college freshman English in the past, and one of the aspects I noticed about students who were better writers and who needed a lot of work was the amount of reading a student did. I have always heard that the more you read, the better you write, and I agree. The students who I knew read had a better grasp on how to write and those who didn’t admitted they never read lacked some of the basic techniques of writing. Now, I’m not saying this concept is a hard and fast rule, but I do believe that reading more, and reading a variety of literature, comics, or newspaper articles will help develop a sense of how writing can be done.

    Can you Teach Someone how to Become a Writer?