Confronting Our Canons

Joan L. Brown

Spanish and Latin American Studies in the 21st Century

247 pages
ISBN 9781611483512

Now in paperback

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.

"...this book should be required reading for all Directors of Graduate Studies in Spanish and Latin American Studies everywhere."--Randolph D. Pope, University of Virginia, Revista Hispánica Moderna 64.2 (2013): 217-219.

"Joan Brown courageously broaches a controversial topic."--Cynthia Tompkins, Arizona State University, MLN 127:2 (2012): 406-408.

"Confident and authoritative, well-written and balanced, provocative and controversial: this is an excellent book, a call to arms and action, that all shapers and readers of literary canons should study with care."--David T. Gies, University of Virginia.

"[Brown's] frank discussion of the issues and her suggestions for the future, are the best that I have seen."--David K. Herzberger, ALEC 37:1 (2012): 253-56.

"The balance of theory and data analysis provides a comprehensive view of the topic and, although examples are gleaned from Spanish and Latin American literature, Brown's observations and recommendations are accessible, and pertinent, to other fields."--María Fernanda Márquez, California State University-Los Angeles, Hispania 94:4 (2011): 755-757

"A fundamental book for scholars of Spanish, Latin American, and US Hispanic literatures and cultures."--S. Miller, CHOICE.

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.


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