Cornel West (essay date Fall 1987)
SOURCE: “Minority Discourse and the Pitfalls of Canon Formation,” in Yale Journal of Criticism, Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall, 1987, pp. 193-201.
[In the following essay, West discusses some of the factors that have influenced the Afro-American literary canon since the 1960s, noting that many of the works included actually reproduce and reinforce traditional cultural models.]
What does it mean to engage in canon formation at this historical moment? In what ways does the prevailing crisis in the humanities impede or enable new canon formations? And what role do the class and professional interests of the canonizers play in either the enlarging of a canon or the making of...
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