The Curricular Canon of Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century British and Irish Literature at Polish Universities
In 2007 Philip Tew and Mark Addis released Final Report: Survey on Teaching Contemporary British Fiction, whose aim was to establish the most popular authors and works as taught by academics at British universities. The purpose of this article is to present the results of a similar survey, which examines the reading lists of British and Irish literature courses offered in the English departments of chosen Polish universities in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Toruń, Poznań, Łódź, Lublin, Wrocław, Opole and Kraków. A discussion of the results — most commonly taught writers and texts — is accompanied by an analysis based on an online survey of the lecturers’ motivations behind including certain texts and omitting others. I will argue that whereas the teaching canon of modernist texts appears fixed all the reading lists include works by James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Butler Yeats and T.S. Eliot, the canon of post-war and contemporary literature is yet to emerge. I shall also assert the appearance of the so called “canon lag” and review the selection criteria for the inclusion of canonical texts. The article concludes with a consideration of the texts that appear most likely to join the curricular canons at Polish universities in the near future. All the discussions are set in the context of critical contributions to the study of canonicity made by Harold Bloom, Nick Bentley, Dominic Head and others.
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