Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

David Galef

Committee Member

Caroline Dadas

Committee Member

Jeffrey Miller


Are graduate students' part of the “canon wars,” which have been waged among scholars and institutions for more than twenty years to determine what should remain part of the literary canon and therefore part of the curriculum; or are graduate students merely “canon fodder”? My research attempts to define the canon, then examines whether scholar-critics or academic institutions have listened to the voice of the students regarding the creation and continued teaching of the canon, and finally explores the chasm between the “accessible” and “selective” canon. I ask whether any pedagogical approach values the student when implementing the canon through the required readings. What happens when graduate students are granted authority in this conversation? Few teachers seem willing to make the leap from rhetoric to practical application; however, research demonstrates that giving students choices about what they read adds to a culture of empowerment and enthusiasm in the classroom. A student-influenced approach to the “canon wars” will not only make sense of the war, but also provide a context for future study and what it means for the canon and curricula to enter the student into the fray as more than mere “canon fodder.”

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