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SGarza: IsItTimeForACanonicalChange

Jennifer G

I wanted to be a bit more detailed than this, however, my original question was too long for a link.

This question was based out of the Yancy reading "Composition in a New Key." This is something we have been discussing in class and we have brought up a number of different ideas about including texts, but not really changing things for good. So I pose:

Is it time for a change in the reading and writing exercises based on current technological advances and cultural differences; or just because?

What do you think that change should or should not look like?

What are some of the pros and cons of such changes?

(See--Way to long for a link question)

My thoughts:

First I do think it is time for a change in what we have students read and write. I think the readings should reflect some of our cultural values, hopefully not focusing so much on the lack there of,and cultural rituals. Each culture has some set of values embedded in it, a repetitive message that reflects the core of the culture, this changes over time, and some of that should be displayed in the readings. I also think there should be more diverse readings, that encompass a broader audience of the student population, even incorporating graphic novels, popular fiction, and current news sources or some internet sources.

I am not sure exactly what the change should look like, but I do think that some of the more classic pieces that have been the focus of the classroom for so long might be moved to a classical based literature course, and some of the more current pieces should make their way into the classroom.

(I would like to note that I love the classics and prefer them to much of the current fiction, however, as I look at the messages portrayed in many of the classic pieces I can see how there is trouble connecting.)

Another option, which I favor more, would be to use certain pieces and integrate more of the modern pieces in with the the older pieces. I believe Steve and several others have spoken about using the newer pieces to help connect with some of the classics.

There are dozens of variations, and these might not be the most effective.

Pros and cons...

Of course these are personal reflections, but I think the cons might be that it could go too far; resulting in a dumbing down of curriculum and a free for all of anything goes. Having said that, I think the pros would be more success and interest in the reading and writing process. I believe that with careful attention to utilizing more of the current works we could see a revitalization and interest in the field of English, literature and composition. The author noted the drop in interest in the discipline, and how much of it is outmoded and I feel embracing some of the newer technologies and literature could help with that.

I think it is time for a change. What do you think?

Michelle G.

Hi Jennifer! :) I concur. haha

I'm kidding, actually, I read something somewhere at some point in my life these past few months about some studies on the issue of canonized texts in the "post-modern" classroom. They talked about using readings from hip-hop culture and other things that students had some kind of bond to/understanding of already as a means of grabbing their attention, and how they found that students tended to revert back to those canon texts throughout the year. I think it might help to establish a theme in the course that connects those readings to now--whether you choose texts from the canon only or choose to incorporate more up-to-date literature. Ultimately though, of course, it has to do with preferences...nowadays you don't find too many students as interested in Jane Austin as they are J.K. Rowling, but perhaps revealing or establishing a connection between their writings (if it can be done..haha) would help their understanding of the canon text and the culture of that time. Keeping those older texts is important, I think, as a means of maintaining an understanding of cultural histories, but I speak from an English major stand, when considering the overall goal of a literature class, if it is only to make sure that the students leave with critical thinking skills, I'm not sure it would make a difference what they were reading, as long as they are able to think critically about it. Maybe if they begin to think critically about what they understand now, they can begin to make those connections and think critically about the past...? I don't know if that makes sense, or if it's even an answer...? ha

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