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The Literary Canon. Mike Fleming. Outline. Arguments for Arguments against Underlying issues and values. What do we mean by ‘canon’?. Official specification of texts, authors genres De facto canon – tacit agreement. Justification for canon. Notions of ‘quality’ Cultural heritage

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the literary canon

The Literary Canon

Mike Fleming

  • Arguments for
  • Arguments against
  • Underlying issues and values
what do we mean by canon
What do we mean by ‘canon’?
  • Official specification of texts, authors genres
  • De facto canon – tacit agreement
justification for canon
Justification for canon
  • Notions of ‘quality’
  • Cultural heritage
  • Issues of national identity
  • Ensuring representation
arguments against
Arguments against
  • Challenge to absolute judgements
  • Insensitive to diverse nature of society
  • Need for curriculum to be appropriate Associated with traditional pedagogy based on authority
  • Curriculum not just about specifying content
underlying issues
Underlying issues
  • Definitions of literature
  • Conceptions of reading
  • Judgements about literature
democratic canon
‘Democratic’ canon
  • Prevents de facto canon being left to chance
  • Ensures entitlement
  • Seeks balance
some questions for consideration
Some questions for consideration
  • Does the specified canon leave sufficient flexibility for teachers and pupils to exercise some choice?
  • Are there mechanisms for regularly reviewing the literary curriculum?
  • Are teachers involved in discussions about the appropriate choices of text and authors?
  • Is there a sufficient balance between national texts and texts from other cultures?
Does the specified curriculum pay sufficient attention to process as well as content?
  • Does the curriculum take account of the need to engage pupils’ interests in wider reading?
  • Is the definition of ‘text’ sufficiently broad to represent contemporary culture?