Thursday, September 08, 2005

Levine's argument seems much more academically based than Bloom's, which was mostly opinion. Levine cites other scholars who have analyzed the canon, students, universities, etc. Bloom pretty much just vented about everything he thinks is wrong with American education. As far as New Criticism goes, I guess Levine would be closer to the thought than Bloom. Bloom doesn't seem to be interested in what books of the classical canon have to say, just that he was taught they were the ones to read. Levine does not completely accept the New Criticism views either, but he seems to have a much more open mind about what texts deserve a closer examination on the academic level.
Levine shows how the canon of American literature has changed since its creation. At points it included all races of peoples in the US and at others was highly exclusive. He shows evidence that canons do and have always changed with the culture of the American people. And with so many different cultures living together under the same roof of America, how can anyone close their mind to the idea of a new canon? Levine discusses how America is not as much a melting pot as it has been referred to because all the races tend to have that feeling of being outsiders, of being part of something other than the American race.
I noticed several instances in which Levine uses the word "culture". In context with Bloom, it made me realize that Bloom was desperate to try and change our culture back to its motherlands. Levine also used "change" multiple times in the chapters, and I think that's what it all boils down to: Who is afraid of change and who isn't? Is change good? Of course it is hard to be completely for either side in all circumstances, but I think it is best not to be afraid of change but to embrace it. Culture and the American mind will change; there's nothing anyone can do about it. So why get so caught up in the past that you lose touch with the future?

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