In school, whether it be at the high school or college levels, there are
usually lists of books thought as being essential reading. Arthur M.
Schlesinger, Jr.--a Pulitzer Prize winning historian--calls this list in his
book The Disuniting of America, a "canon" or "canonical literature." A problem
exists with this canon, at least Schlesinger claims there is. He states that
the canon is being used "as an instrument of European oppression enforcing the
hegemony of the white race, the male sex, and the capitalist class " From my
high school experience, I believe this is not true. At my high school, teachers
encourage students to read not only standard English literature, but also to
study the great writers of other cultures.
There is a great deal of European influence in American society and in
American education. Some people, like the Afrocentrists, feel that this
influence is too heavy and that schools should also be teaching about other
cultures in their classes. Schlesinger states in his book that he "believes in
the importance of teaching Americans the history of other culturesEast Asia,
Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Polynesia." Since we live in a
multicultural society, we should be teaching a multicultural curriculum.
At my high school, I feel as if I received this type of education. The
teachers encourage students to read not only standard English literature, but
also to study the great writers of other ethnicities. My high school is a
private college preparatory institution in San Francisco. Some authors whose
works we read in our English classes consisted of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Jane
Austen, Ovid, Maya Angelou, Chaim Potok, John Steinbeck, Amy Tan, Chinua Achebe,
and C. S. Lewis.
This curriculum is not at all what Schlesinger claims to be the current
"American literary canon: Emerson, Jefferson, Melville, Whitman, Hawthorne,
Thoreau, Lincoln, Twain, Dickinson, William... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(1999, 10). Schlesinger's Canon vs. My High School's Canon. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 1999, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Schlesingers-Canon-Vs-My-High-Schools-1446.html
"Schlesinger's Canon vs. My High School's Canon" StudyMode.com. 10 1999. 10 1999 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Schlesingers-Canon-Vs-My-High-Schools-1446.html>.
"Schlesinger's Canon vs. My High School's Canon." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Schlesingers-Canon-Vs-My-High-Schools-1446.html.