Multiethnic Literature and Canon Debates

Edited by Mary Jo Bona & Irma Maini

Subjects: Multicultural Education
Paperback : 9780791467626, 256 pages, May 2006
Hardcover : 9780791467619, 256 pages, May 2006

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Table of contents

John Lowe


Introduction: Multiethnic Literature in the Millennium
Mary Jo Bona and Irma Maini


1. From the Road not Taken to the Multi-Lane Highway: MELUS, The Journal
Veronica Makowsky

2. On the Trail of the Chicana/o Subject: Literary Texts and Contexts in the Formation of Chicana/o Studies
Aureliano Maria DeSoto

3. “A House Made with Stones / Full of Stories”: Anthologizing Native American Literature
Kristin Czarnecki


4. “But is it Great?”: The Question of the Canon for Italian American Women Writers
Mary Jo Bona

5. Racial Politics and the Literary Reception of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
Stephen Spencer

6. De-Centering the Canon: Understanding The Great Gatsby as an Ethnic Novel
Joe Kraus

7. An Exile’s Will to Canon and Its Tension with Ethnicity: Li-Young Lee
Wenying Xu


8. Canon-Openers, Book Clubs, and Middlebrow Culture
June Dwyer

9. From the Boardroom to Cocktail Parties: “Great” Books, Multiethnic Literature, and the Production of the Professional Managerial Class in the Context of Globalization
Sarika Chandra

10. It’s Just Beginning: Assessing the Impact of the Internet on U. S. Multiethnic Literature and the “Canon”
Patricia Keefe Durso


Examines the making of multiethnic literature and its place both in the classroom and in popular culture.


This groundbreaking collection reinvigorates the debate over the inclusion of multiethnic literature in the American literary canon. While multiethnic literature has earned a place in the curriculum on many large campuses, it is still a controversial topic at many others, as recent campus and corporate revivals of The Great Books attest. Many still perceive multiethnic literature as being governed by ideological and political issues, perpetuating a false distinction between highbrow "literary" texts and multiethnic works.

Through historical overviews and textual analyses, the contributors not only argue for the aesthetic validity of multiethnic literature, but also examine the innovative ways in which multiethnic literature is taught and critiqued. The following questions are also addressed: Who and what determines literary value? What role do scholars, students, the reading public, book awards, and/or publishers play in affirming literary value? Taken together, these essays underscore the necessity for maintaining vibrant conversations about the place of multiethnic literature both inside and outside the academy.

Mary Jo Bona is Associate Professor of Italian American Studies and English at Stony Brook University, State University of New York. She is the editor of several books and the author of Claiming a Tradition: Italian American Women Writers. Irma Maini is Assistant Professor of English at New Jersey City University.