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Thomas Library

Honors Thesis Archive

Author Ronald J. Ross
Title The Pragmatist Canon: Rethinking Literature in the Classroom
Department English
Advisors J. Fitz Smith, Scot Hinson, and Heather Wright
Year 2009
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (297 KB)
Abstract Mark Edmundson takes a pragmatic approach to literature and argues that we should read in order to alter our Final Narratives, the fundamental ways we conceptualize the world. I apply this argument to how we construct canons, including classroom syllabi. Specifically, I claim that as the classroom environment is essential to our literary education, we need to read in a pragmatic manner in the classroom, not least of all because doing so is capable of improving our lives and the lives around us. Taking this understanding of a literary education, I then run Don DeLillo's Underworld and Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis through this machinery. The result is that we are able to produce viable, significant arguments for both authors', but more importantly King's, canonization. This result is contrary to the canonical views of thinkers such as Mark Edmundson and Harold Bloom who believe that we ought not to engage King in the classroom. By conceptualizing reading, and specifically canonization, as a pragmatic process, we are able to articulate why Stephen King might be a significant part of our literary education.

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