• Canonicity and Medieval Hispanic Studies

    David A. Wacks (see profile)
    LLC 16th- and 17th-Century Spanish and Iberian Poetry and Prose, LLC Medieval Iberian
    Spanish literature, Middle Ages, Sixteenth century, Seventeenth century
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    2008 MLA Convention
    Conf. Org.:
    Modern Language Association
    Conf. Loc.:
    San Francisco
    Conf. Date:
    Dec 28-30, 2008
    Medieval Iberian literature, Medieval Spanish Literature, 16th-century Spanish literature, 17th-century Spanish literature, Colonial Spanish America
    Permanent URL:
    Since the 1980s, there has been much discussion of the question of the literary canon. Our colleages in English have been particularly outspoken on the question (Charles Altieri 1990; Jan Gorak 1991 and 2000; John Guillory 1993; Gregory Jay 1997) and in recent years, Hispanists such as José María Pozuelo Yvancos and María Rosa Adrada Sánchez (2000) and Wadda Ríos-Font (2004) have made important interventions. And despite recent thought-provoking essays by María Rosa Menocal and John Dagenais in the Cambridge History of Spanish Literature interrogating the idea of medieval ‘Spanish’ literature, medieval Hispanists have not directly addressed the problem of canonicity in our field, particularly in its pedagogical dimension. What is our mission as instructors of the pre-modern literature(s) of the Iberian Peninsula? What criteria do we use in determining what to teach? If they are geographic, do we teach the literature of the kindgoms that later became Spain? Or only that of Castile and Leon? Should we teach works that have been accepted as canonical, or try to include others? These questions only beget more. If we are critical of the idea of a canon, what is our resopnse? Do we retrofit it by inserting authors more demographically representative of medieval Iberia or who worked in languages other than Castilian? In doing so, are we still validating the idea of a literary canon, and if so, is this problematic? All these questions point up the ambiguity of our pedagogical mission as university instructors of medieval Iberian literature. In this presentation, I will invite you to help me examine some of the basic assumptions and ideological underpinnings of much of our teaching, and in particular our approach to the ‘survey’ course.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago


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