Canons and Questions of Value in Literature in English from the Malayan Peninsula
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, andÂ 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.Â
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