Literary Canons, Literary Studies, and Library Collections: A Retrospective On Collecting Twentieth-Century Writers

THOMAS F. STALEY

Abstract

One of the most broadly based and strikingly interesting subjects in literary studies today is the question of canon-formation—which is but a part of an inquiry into the institutions of literary study. Admittedly the basis of this larger inquiry is frequently ironic, with protestations of the power of the canon’s establishment, calls for its change or expansion, and the recognition of the social structures that created and continue to preserve it. The subject involves extensive discussion of such questions as how artists reinforce the canon by the choice of styles or procedures, how critics construct canons, how canons govern . . .

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