Confronting Our Canons
Joan L. Brown
Spanish and Latin American Studies in the 21st Century
What is a canon and why does it matter? In Confronting Our Canons: Spanish and Latin American Studies in the 21st Century, Joan L. Brown shows that a canon has the power to define a field and determine what is taught. She argues that it is both productive and necessary to confront our canons, to see what is actually in them and how these works and authors got there. Only then can educators take charge of their teaching canons and, by extension, their disciplines. Brown demonstrates that there is little agreement in the reported teaching canons in English and Spanish. Analyzing twentieth- and twenty-first-century required graduate reading lists in Spanish and Latin American literature in the United States, she finds that the core literary canon for graduate students is less comprehensive than the Spanish Advanced Placement reading list for high school students. She encourages the field of Hispanic studies - curators of the cultural patrimony of our country's second language - to take the lead in developing a diverse, flexible, shared foundational canon at the graduate level, before the arbiters of "best practices" do this for us.
About the author:
Joan L. Brown is Elias Ahuja Professor of Spanish at the University of Delaware. After graduating from Vassar College, she earned MA and PhD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Her publications have explored canon formation, literature by women, the contemporary Spanish novel in its cultural context, and language and literature pedagogy. Previous books include Secrets from the Back Room: The Fiction of Carmen Martín Gaite, Women Writers of Contemporary Spain: Exiles in the Homeland (editor), and with Carmen Martín Gaite, the textbook Conversaciones creadoras: Mastering Spanish Conversation.