Yesterday we discussed issues of literary canon, minority literary canons, and labeling in general. I remember someone making a point that men (for example) should definitely be encouraged to write feminist literature; however, they should not be included in an anthology of Women’s Literature. I would be inclined to agree with this. I think supporting the cause of feminism is wonderful but is not the same as living as a woman and therefore experiencing the world as a woman. Nevertheless, this again begs the question of: what should be included in specific canons? If I wrote about the experience of a Latina living in Tennessee, would it be included in the Latin American canon, even though I’m Caucasian? I also wonder: if someone of Latin American descent writes a novel about a dog on an adventure (which seemingly has nothing to do with race), is this inevitably included in the Latin American canon because of the author’s ethnicity? Should canon only consider the experience of the work itself as detached and separate from the author’s identity? Or should the author’s identity or what we would label as the author’s identity be considered? Are there any English writers who moved to America and wrote about the American experience and are included in our canon? Yes, Robin Thicke, I hate these blurred lines, and the questions regarding canon are endless. Seriously, though – if I wrote a gory horror story, I really don’t think that should be included in a women’s lit canon just because I’m a woman. That story would have absolutely zilch to do with the topic of women’s lit.
I think this kind of discussion of canon is necessary. Just because something is widely accepted as being in the canon does not mean that I have to like the work or admire the work’s excellence. I also think that creating these separate canons showcases different kinds of literature that deserves to be recognized. What’s at stake is the exclusion of brilliant authors and their work because they have been ignored by the so-called “canon.”