Canons and Questions of Value in Literature in English from the Malayan Peninsula


  • Rajeev S. Patke, National University of Singapore



The paper is divided into two parts. The first provides an overview of the role played by anthologies and critical writing in the formation of regional canons of writing in English. The survey draws inferences about the role played by poets, critics, and  academics in local canon-formation, as well the role played by Western education and literary models in the formation of a regional tradition. The second part stands back from the historical specificity of regional canons to take a more conceptual approach to questions of value in literary cultures. What are the criteria by which we judge literary productions? In what ways do such criteria bespeak the specific cultural conditions within which they are exercised, and in what ways can they be said to transcend such specificity? What are the connections between canons of the local and regional kind and those that aspire to universal status? What, in short, might we recognise about the dynamics of the cultural politics that underlies all canon-formations? The paper will conclude by bringing together the two strands of inquiry with some general observations on the contemporary situation of the literary cultures in English of the Malayan peninsula. 



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Author Biography

Rajeev S. Patke, National University of Singapore

Rajeev S. Patke is professor of English at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of The Long Poems of Wallace Stevens (Cambridge UP, 1985), Postcolonial Poetry in English (Oxford UP, 2006), co-author of The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English (Routledge, 2009), and currently working on Modernist Literature and Postcolonial Studies (forthcoming, Edinburgh, 2011). He has published essays on cultural studies, postcolonial studies, and Irish studies in edited books and in journals such as Diacritics, Third Text, Theory Culture and Society, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Word and Image, and Kunapipi, among others.




How to Cite

Patke, National University of Singapore, R. S. (2009). Canons and Questions of Value in Literature in English from the Malayan Peninsula. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 3(2), 38–53.