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Why Literature Matters in the 21st Century$
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Mark Roche

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300104493

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300104493.001.0001

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The Literary Canon and the Literary Critic in the Twenty-First Century

The Literary Canon and the Literary Critic in the Twenty-First Century

(p.249) Chapter 9 The Literary Canon and the Literary Critic in the Twenty-First Century
Why Literature Matters in the 21st Century

Mark William Roche

Yale University Press

This chapter gleams into the present and future of literature and literary criticism. For centuries, critics were united in their declaration of what works of literature were greater than others. The consensus about the canon has essentially evaporated, however, first due to the differences of opinion between critics. Some value tradition and authority alone, and this resulted in a sense of dogmatism. Second, new methodologies emerged that taught us how to ask different question regarding the content of the literary works themselves. This resulted in the discovery of certain weaknesses and blindspots of those works within the canon, which in turn resulted in the examination of works that were previously neglected. These and the two other catalysts to the canon, however, are not particularly convincing as criteria and barriers to creating a literary canon. Thus the task of the chapter is to evaluate what qualities and criteria should be considered for a canon in the twenty-first century.

Keywords:   literary criticism, literary canon, tradition, dogmatism, literary works, literature

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