ERIC Number: ED337810
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
"The Art Is in the Balancing": Canon Expansion in "The Norton Anthology of American Literature."
Massey, Donna B.
The stated objective of "The Norton Anthology of American Literature" (NAAL) is to present a thorough selection from the literary tradition along with new or lesser-known works to exemplify multi-cultural America. The first edition of the NAAL emphasized traditional pieces. Poetry selections in the second edition were greatly shortened. The second edition also added new writers and pieces and expanded existent writers' works. Changes to volume 1 of the third edition consisted only of additions and restorations (no deletions). Volume 2 saw its biggest changes in poetry. In all, the third edition added 23 "new voices." Some people have voiced their concern that anthologies like the NAAL are indulging in over-addition with not enough subtraction, resulting in no real challenge to the current canon. The idea of a "canon" of American Literature is primarily a twentieth-century concept, created and heavily revised in this century. Anthologies like the NAAL offer adaptability to the teacher and to the reader, attempting to reach a point of balance. With the NAAL, the changes have been generally useful, expanding the reading choices and presenting more variety, especially in contemporary literature. (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Literary Canon; Norton Anthology of American Literature
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the College English Association (San Antonio, TX, April 18-20, 1991).