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Chapter 2 - Canons

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2024

Roy Gibson
University of Durham
Christopher Whitton
University of Cambridge
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Moving between an analysis of the canon as a critical mechanism and a focus on the physical limits and definition of Latin literature, the chapter reviews the very discourse of the canon and its impact on the field. The ‘canonised’ nature of Classics determines not just a hierarchy of texts and methodologies worthier of being taught and researched but also informs the very approach to non-canonical or ‘para-canonical’ texts. Any canon, in other words, is not just about what we study, it is also about how we study it. Opening up the canon is a dynamic and self-reinforcing process and one which involves both readers who embody difference (social, racial, gender etc.) accessing and studying an expanded and evolving canon, and texts that embody difference (peripheral, post-classical, marginal etc.) being ‘read into’ the canon by an increasingly diverse readership. Interrogating our canon of Latin literature, this chapter argues, implies a fundamental repositioning of one’s scholarly stance not just towards non-canonical texts but also towards canonical authors.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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