The Millions

We Need to Talk About the Canon: Demographics in ‘The Norton Anthology’

In the last 20 years or so, the discussion of diversity in the American literary canon has exploded, garnering space in mainstream media outlets. A wide array of magazines, journals, and websites have tackled the issue. A 2013 article titled “Canon Fodder: Denouncing the Classics” details the prickly and vague assumptions with which experts attempt to define canonical works. Other articles aim to deconstruct or expound upon the problem, often with similarly severe titles: “What is Literature?: In Defense of the Canon” (, 2014); “The Literary Canon Is Still One Big 2012); “Reconstructing the Canon” (, 2018), “The Canon Is Sexist, Racist, Colonialist, and Totally Gross. Yes, You Have to Read It Anyway” (, 2018).

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Millions

The Millions11 min read
Best Translated Book Awards Spotlight: The Millions Interviews Linda Coverdale
As a translator, I’m responsible for providing information encoded in the text that's more easily accessible to a native reader, as discreetly as possible. The post Best Translated Book Awards Spotlight: The Millions Interviews Linda Coverdale appear
The Millions4 min read
Best Translated Book Awards Spotlight: The Millions Interviews Laura Cesarco Eglin
I’ve been living with these poems for a few years: reading, translating, editing. The editing is difficult because you know it’s the prelude to letting go. The post Best Translated Book Awards Spotlight: The Millions Interviews Laura Cesarco Eglin ap
The Millions5 min read
Must-Read Poetry: June 2019
This month's most-surprising volume is a remix in verse of a diary kept by an 86-year-old Illinois woman, started in 1968 and finished in 1972. The post Must-Read Poetry: June 2019 appeared first on The Millions.