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Dear Dr. L,
You have requested a bit of knowledge about me. I will start with my passion, which dictates most of my life, is religious studies. You will find this common underlay through your experience with me (if you have not already noticed). What I love about religion is that it can be seen in just about every area of study, including English. Throughout school, I struggled with English. Growing up, I was off put when others required me to do specific things, such as doing the dishes, taking daily baths, and keeping up with journals for my English classes. I was am a terrible speller. In every other subject, I thrived. I just did not understand English. That is, until my senior year in high school. By this time, I found ways around the system and got by with steady B’s in my English classes. So I decided to take a college composition class. My first assignment was a three-page paper using first person narrative. I chose to talk about a very significant and traumatic instance in my life: the day my sister had brain surgery. While writing this short paper, I fell into a rhythm. I was done with it in a blink of an eye and was eager (side note: had to ask how to spell eager… told you I’m terrible at spelling) to show my teacher. While I watched him read it, I noticed the tears bundle in his eyes. That was when I fell into a great admiration with English. Although it will never compare to my passionate love for religion, English is still something I am interested in becoming better at. This is why I am pushing through my English minor, no matter how difficult it might be for me.
The texts I chose to focus on, was Story and Archive in the Twenty-First Century by Randy Bass and Becoming Noncanoical: The Case Against Willa Cather by Sharon O’Brien. I chose these because they show a bit of a different approach to canonization in English literature. Bass focused on overrepresentation in canon, which is the opposite of the previous problems in English Studies in the past. Bass shows concern of canonization in new media. In recent years, the classics have been made into digital copies. These have positives and negatives. Where it seems that Bass leans more towards the negative side and criticizes the use of hypertext, I believe modern canonization needs to change with time. Let’s think of how writing has changed over the centuries. Stories were originally oral traditions. To advance with times (and for other reasons too), oral stories were translated into text. However, the means of text have changed over time as well (which changes with language as well). Popular texts, such as the Bible, were written on different means, for example, papyrus. With the advancement of society comes the advancement of literature. The Bible could still be read on papyrus (in fact, I suggest that everyone view papyrus at least once in their lives… it is beautiful) but the small changes, such as adding an index and a table of contents, makes it more accessible to the general public. I recognize this is English based, but I do believe that this shows that literature does need to keep up with the times. Having hyperlinks does not mean everyone will use them. But it does bring in a sense of convenience for the reader. Knowing that I am one click away from extra resources encourages me to read more online. I am less likely to search down all the footnotes in my paper book than online.
Since the question arose in class, I have been pondering it: is it possible to decanonize literature? O’Brien’s article sparked this idea in my mind once again. Through all the problems shown about Willa Cather, I still do not believe that once something is canonized, it can be taken out. It also made me think about how women were not respected in canonization, regardless of their success.