Michigan Heroes Essay

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But that could hardly be so for those unfamiliar with my “home,” and hardly a requisite for the pleasure they take.

For three hundred years black Americans insisted that “race” was no usefully distinguishing factor in human relationships.

During those same three centuries every academic discipline, including theology, history, and natural science, insisted “race” was the determining factor in human development.

(The Chaucer Society was founded in 1848, four hundred years after Chaucer died.) No. It has a more strenuously argued (and felt) defense and a more vigorously insistent attack.

And both defenses and attacks have spilled out of the academy into the popular press. Resistance to displacement within or expansion of a canon is not, after all, surprising or unwarranted. (And the question of whether there should be a canon or not seems disingenuous to me -there always is one whether there should be ornot – for it is in the interests of the professional critical community to have one.) Certainly a sharp alertness as to why a work is or is not worthy of study is the legitimate occupation of the critic, the pedagogue and the artist.


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