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Power and Tradition: Sorting Out This Year’s Contentious Debate About the Canon


Joshua Gibbs


Presented at the CiRCE National Conference 2023.

2023 has been filled with heated debate (among mid-level intellectuals, many of whom spend a lot of time on Twitter) about what is and is not “the canon.” The debate would be far more productive if we sorted out a more basic question first: What exactly does canonization get you? After a book is canonized, then what? Who cares? In this lecture, Joshua Gibbs chops the Gordian knot in two with a common sense explanation of canonization.