Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature by Joseph Csicsila
By Joseph Csicsila
Joseph Csicsila analyzes greater than eighty anthologies released in view that 1919 and lines not just the severe fortunes of person authors, but in addition the remedy of whole genres and groupings of authors via race, quarter, gender, and formal procedure. In doing so, he calls into query accusations of planned or inadvertent sexism and racism. decisions by way of anthology editors, Csicsila demonstrates, have consistently been ruled way more by way of triumphing developments in educational feedback than by way of own bias.
Academic anthologies are chanced on to represent a wealthy and infrequently ignored source for learning American literature, in addition to an irrefutable list of the academy’s altering literary tastes during the final century.
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Additional info for Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies (Amer Lit Realism & Naturalism)
In no case do they appear together before the late 1940s. Collectively the two stories make up less than 10 percent of the total selections by Irving printed in anthologies between 1919 and 1946. As a point of contrast, the ¤rst chapter of volume 3 of A History of New York, commonly titled “The Golden Reign of Wouter Van Twiller”—which humorously details, as Irving’s narrator discloses, “the person and habits” of an early colonial American governor (and, somewhat by implication, the day-to-day lives of seventeenthcentury Dutch settlers of New York)—is excerpted in all but three an- 26 Chapter 2 thologies from this period.
This trend began to reverse itself noticeably by the early 1970s. Showing this trend, the editors of W. W. Norton’s The American Tradition in Literature, the most widely used literary textbook in American colleges be- 20 Chapter 1 tween the late 1950s and early 1980s, added four or ¤ve writers, usually contemporary ¤gures, along with two hundred pages each time they revised their anthology in 1961 and 1967. In 1974, however, they abruptly introduced more than ¤fty new writers in the two-volume set while adding more than ¤fteen new authors (most of whom were from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) in the revised single-volume format without boosting its physical size.
And of these ten textbooks, at least eight make the historical interest of a piece of literature the chief criterion for its inclusion. One result of most early editors’ desire to present the variety of the American experience through selections of poetry, prose, and drama was the sometimes bewildering inclusiveness of their anthologies. Typically varying in length from one thousand to two thousand total pages The Historical Context 11 (many were packaged in two-volume sets), these ¤rst modern anthologies on average accommodated only a small fraction of the literature found in today’s six-thousand-page, two-volume collections.