ERIC Number: ED337787
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Insights into Compromise through an International Canon.
Baker, Beulah P.
An important aspect of rethinking reading lists and anthologies is the realization that new arrangements require close reading to determine assumptions, biases, and concerns. Readers are challenged to acknowledge multiple points of view while reconstructing their own ideas of who belongs to a culture and what comprises its literature. Redefining the canon and expanding it internationally not only does justice to diverse voices too often ignored, but also trains students to identify the point of view of a particular piece of writing and, consequently, to develop an attitude of reflective thinking. Focusing upon point of view while deliberately selecting novels which reflect compromises with society (such as Carlos Fuentes'"The Good Conscience," F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart," Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," and Nadine Gordimer's "Six Feet of the Country") contributed to critical thinking in a course on modern fiction. The context of this reconstructed canon of modern fiction expanded students' understanding not only of different cultures, but also of familiar ones, and opened dialogue concerning the seductions of conformity and compromise. Students learned to clarify the distinction between reading a character as the text defines him, and as the reader might prefer; and learned not to assume a novel shares their biases. Examining these novels allowed the students to see various cultures through the eyes of both members and outsiders, and of both proponents and opponents of wealth, stoicism, compassion, tolerance, and confusion. (PRA)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Compromise; Literary Canon; Twentieth Century
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the College English Association (San Antonio, TX, April 18-20, 1991).