The Radical Humanistic Canon
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In the polarizations of the American culture wars since the 1960s, leftists have become positioned as critics of the established canon of literary and humanistic classics, and conservatives as its defenders. Many on both sides are ridiculously simplistic—leftists who would ban the very words “classic” and “great” in the cause of multicultural egalitarianism or poststructuralist anti-foundationalism; conservatives who are convinced that the classics are ageless monuments of political and moral propriety, and that everyone on the left is either a mindless moral relativist or a Stalinist commissar. My focus here is countering conservative accounts, although it can also be reversed to counter leftist ones that show ignorance of the oppositional elements in the humanistic tradition or are too quick to charge that they are eclipsed by the hegemonic ones. I reiterate that this is not meant to diminish the value of judicious canon revision—especially in recognition of groups that have been shut out of conventional histories—or of critique of the biases in the classics, but only to compensate for the gaps in some revisionist accounts.
KeywordsHigh Educ Ation Free Enterprise Conservative Account American Foreign Policy Moral Superiority
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