Reading without Maps?
Among the intellectual debates of the last forty years, the critique of cultural canons has attracted the highest share of public attention, stirring academic, educational, and media controversies on both sides of the Atlantic. Postmodernism, feminism, postcolonialism, and multiculturalism have refashioned the attitudes of educators and audiences towards cultural memory, opening up curricula to subjects and traditions previously excluded from the humanities. Predictably, these new critical practices have triggered heated responses from commentators fearing that culture and education might thereby be deprived of their capacity to provide audiences and learners with proper groundings and landmarks. The present volume gathers contributions that throw light on multiple aspects of this reconfiguration of cultural memory. It brings together essays focusing on the dynamics of canon formation in several fields – literature, drama, film, and music. Contributors examine how writers and communities find their bearings in a cultural landscape more complex than that previously envisaged by advocates of the Great Tradition. Specifically, the present essays throw light on the status of modernist writing, drama in English, or popular genres within the new canonical topography elaborated at the turn of the twenty-first century.
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