What is the debate today about the American canon of literature, when did it start and has there always been one regarding the canon?I'm doing a research paper so if you cite sources it would be...

What is the debate today about the American canon of literature, when did it start and has there always been one regarding the canon?

I'm doing a research paper so if you cite sources it would be very helpful.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the debate today is the same debate that has been present for some time now.  What qualifies as being worthy of inclusion in the canon?  How do we increase the number of voices that are within the canon?  These questions are as present now as they have been in the last thirty years or so.  The canon had always been a realm where it had been standard to include certain works.  Over the last thirty years, there has been a greater clamor to broaden the canon's reach to ensure that thee are more voices present in the discourse.  There are those who wish to make sure that as many voices are included in this narrative as possible.  There are others who feel that the canon itself should not be altered to fit social trends of inclusion.  In doing so, they argue, the focus of the canon being "the best" or the most worthy of distinction is lost to a certain extent.  With the emergence of cultural studies as a real element in the academy, the battles over the canon have raged on for quite some time.  There is little to indicate that this will change in the near future.