What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
49 views
49 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
84 views
84 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
124 views
124 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
104 views
104 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
131 views
131 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
191 views
191 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
132 views
132 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
277 views
277 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
221 views
221 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
224 views
224 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
255 views
255 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
801 Views

What’s wrong with the literary canon?

This elusive and slightly archaic category, ‘the literary canon’ seeps into what we know and what we think we know about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ literature. On a simple level, the ‘literary canon’ refers to a body of texts, narratives and writers considered to be the most important and influential in a particular time or place. As part of this canon, literature older than the 19th century tends (for obvious reasons) to privilege predominately male, white writers. In stark contrast then, surely modern literature should seek to challenge these boundaries?

As promoted in class, learning about the past is only useful in so far as to see how it has changes the present day. Yet, for years now literature courses have been dominated by the same old names: a limited mashup of authors like Austen, Swift and Dickens. It is by no mistake that these names are constantly referred to as ‘representative’ of English literature, with their significance (in one way or another) contributing to challenging or satirizing their contemporary British society. However, to leave the list there and dismiss the endeavors of modern authors (multi-ethnic and all), is to rob students of a wider world of work that goes beyond these rigid categories. Despite modern authors insight into what is actually happening at this moment in time, they still have to wedge their way into this canon. Critically acclaimed author Yvonne Owou’s Dust manages to defy this norm and wins a spot onto literature modules, however there are many more out there that still deserve the limelight. As an English Literature student, we are often taught to look at a novel, play or poem in contextual  and historical terms. Yet it becomes a troubling method when it stops there.

Joe Sacco’s comic book Palestine is rarely classified alongside other high-brow political literature, strictly because of its experimental or atypical format (you guessed it…the comic book). It is rather comical that canonical authors have gained their popularity due to these exact features. Modernist, surrealist and avant-garde writers and thinkers have carved out a name for themselves precisely from their experimentation with words, images and style. So why is it when comic books actively play with words, images and style (just like avant-garde writers), that this is somehow not ‘high-brow’ enough? Despite the varying content, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves all-share similarities with Sacco’s works, in their ability to make the everyday strange, and to stretch our perception of what we think we know about society and politics. Surely then, Sacco’s decision to use a style predominately associated with superheroes and fantasy is a clever one. Like with the surrealists of the last century, Sacco uses this ‘childlike’ medium to deal with issues that has troubled the last two decades in a comical and engaging way.

The question still remains to circulate ‘what actually is the canon’? For further insight, lets dive into the etymology of this elusive word. Its origins derive from the Greek word ‘kanon’, meaning a measuring rod or rule in law in which to follow. This vague definition seems to offer no answer to what exactly this measure is, or what it will be measured against. If we are always measuring against Dickens and Austen, then surely writers like Sacco and Owuor can never make the cut in any mainstream English course. However, if this measure looks at creativity and innovation no matter its writer or presentation, than the confines of ‘canon’ doesn’t seem so restrictive. It seems that if this measure of literary worth in terms of innovation and creativity would be put up against other forms of writing: a short story, rap song or comic book, they would all pass.

Renowned authors Aldous Huxley and John Steinbeck were in their time known for their unpopularity, rather than the success we know of them today. If this is the case, there is some hope for budding authors of experimental or ‘low-brow’ style to go beyond the measure of what the canon measures right now and into something that is more representative of what British culture actually looks like today.

Featured image: Flickr

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
49 views
49 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
84 views
84 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
124 views
124 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
104 views
104 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
131 views
131 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
191 views
191 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
132 views
132 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
277 views
277 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
221 views
221 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
224 views
224 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
255 views
255 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
Bliss Signal Album Review
Music
30 views
30 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

De-Stressing with Rob Cowen’s Common Ground
Arts
54 views
Arts
54 views

De-Stressing with Rob Cowen’s Common Ground

Hal Keelin - October 18, 2018

Upon my transfer to Sussex University, I found Robert Cowen’s Common Ground a particularly comforting read. After nearly a year out from academic study, I was finally…

What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
49 views
Arts
49 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018

  All you need to know about autumn at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts If you have not seen the ACCA’s new autumn programme, you…

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
84 views
Arts
84 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018

In celebration of Black History Month, Sussex Student Union organised a number of interesting talks and events across October. One of these exciting opportunities was a chance…

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA
Film & Theatre
73 views
Film & Theatre
73 views

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA

Anonymous - October 10, 2018

At the outset, Mr Messier’s FIELD at once invoked The Matrix and Daedalus’ Boiler Room set.  The basic concept of this mixed media performance relies on transducer…

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development
Arts
108 views
Arts
108 views

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development

Kate Dennett - October 10, 2018

To commemorate to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Day, I found it increasingly difficult to draw attention to just one book of relevance in recognition of this…

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective
Campus News
96 views
Campus News
96 views

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective

Chris Ahjem - October 9, 2018

Annually, the University of Sussex welcomes thousands of new students to our Falmer campus and every year the Student’s Union and Brighton based clubs and businesses increase…

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known
News
141 views
News
141 views

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known

Chris Ahjem - October 6, 2018

To celebrate National Badger Day here are 10 fun facts about our animal kingdom namesake Badgers can run up to 16-19 miles per hour which is the…

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
124 views
Arts
124 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018

This coming week marks the celebration of Libraries Week, an event solely dedicated to praising the work of libraries across the UK. This annual event is taking…

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
104 views
Interview
104 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018

The young star is often a tricky title to navigate. There are the big names, who explode into the world with noise, bright light, a big record…

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry
Lifestyle
135 views
Lifestyle
135 views

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry

Rachel Badham - October 3, 2018

Fenty Beauty, launched in September last year, is a makeup line created by global superstar Robyn Rihanna Fenty, better known as Rihanna. It’s not uncommon for celebrity…

Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
131 views
Lifestyle
131 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018

Once an art form disregarded by many, 2018 bears witness to the continuous rise of drag as a legitimate, celebrated art. Spearheaded by RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag…

In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
191 views
Arts
191 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Alannah Myles, the 1991 Grammy winner for best female rock vocal performance for her outstanding vocal abilities for the…

Brighton Needs You!
News
132 views
News
132 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018

Brighton is a vibrant and thriving city that many students at Sussex are lucky enough to call home. But there are many in the area in need…

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
277 views
Arts
277 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
202 views
Film & Theatre
202 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Olek Młyński - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
221 views
Sports
221 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
224 views
Arts
224 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
255 views
Arts
255 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1315 views1
Campus News
1315 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Go See a String Quartet: Globally Renowned Artists Play for Free on Campus
Culture
96 views
Culture
96 views

Go See a String Quartet: Globally Renowned Artists Play for Free on Campus

Ketan Jha - October 19, 2018

Classical music can be obtuse. It is easy, especially at free concerts occupied largely by octogenarians, to get lost between movements and melodies. This is especially true…

Bliss Signal Album Review
Music
30 views
Music
30 views

Bliss Signal Album Review

Ryan Bridgewater - October 18, 2018

  CD/Vinyl/Download At first glance, the worlds of black metal and electronic dance music do not seem to have very much in common. The former is characterised…

New Student Energy Project Launches at Sussex
Campus News
21 views
Campus News
21 views

New Student Energy Project Launches at Sussex

Jessica Hubbard - October 18, 2018

A new Student Energy Project has started at Sussex. The project is run in collaboration with The Student Energy Project, the University Sustainability team and Sussex Students’…

Name Changes Made Easier for Students
Campus News
28 views
Campus News
28 views

Name Changes Made Easier for Students

Matthew Nicholls - October 18, 2018

The University of Sussex will now accept unenrolled deed polls as proof of name change to those who wish, granting more freedom and anonymity to those in…

Sentences Quashed for Fracking Protestors
News
41 views
News
41 views

Sentences Quashed for Fracking Protestors

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

The court of appeal has quashed sentences handed to 3 fracking protestors calling them "manifestly excessive". Jail sentences of 15- 16 months were given to the three…

In Conversation with Peter Tatchell: Gender, Direct Action and Brexit
News
45 views
News
45 views

In Conversation with Peter Tatchell: Gender, Direct Action and Brexit

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

Veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, gave a talk on campus. Known for his work with the LGBTQ+ community, he spoke about free speech under attack and…

NUS Backs ‘People’s Vote’
News
31 views
News
31 views

NUS Backs ‘People’s Vote’

kenyon55 - October 17, 2018

The NUS has expressed its support for a national referendum on the final Brexit deal, also referred to as a ‘People’s Vote’. This came after Labour MPs…

Over 1,000 Sign Sussex Fracking Open Letter
Campus News
33 views
Campus News
33 views

Over 1,000 Sign Sussex Fracking Open Letter

Jessica Hubbard - October 17, 2018

An open letter started by Sussex academics has gained over 1,000 signatures. The letter, entitled ‘Open letter from UK academics: The harsh sentencing of anti-fracking campaigners sets…

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes
National News
62 views
National News
62 views

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

Written by Danielle Ball Shocking witness statements have been heard from the fire crew and call handlers involved in the response to the tragedy The Grenfell Tower…

Renting Unaffordable for Young People
National News
46 views
National News
46 views

Renting Unaffordable for Young People

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

South East among the most expensive areas to rent as revealed by BBC research. Research carried out by The BBC has found that renting is unaffordable for…

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns
Music
63 views
Music
63 views

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns

Lara Antoine - October 13, 2018

Photo by Vojta Dvrocek Whether you’ve seen him in Ezra Collective or featuring alongside other breakthrough neo-jazz artists like Mr Jukes. Pianist Joe Armon-Jones is no stranger…

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur
Arts
67 views
Arts
67 views

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur

Olek Młyński - October 11, 2018

The newest film from the notorious Gaspar Noé was so critically acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival that the director himself could not believe it. Climax opens…