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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 6: The American Novel 1879-1940$
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Priscilla Wald and Michael A. Elliott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385342

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780195385342.001.0001

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The Making of American Literature

The Making of American Literature

(p.549) 34 The Making of American Literature
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Elizabeth Renker

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the curricular history of American literature, with particular emphasis on its transformation from non-canonical to canonical within the school system. It begins by discussing the emergence of a changing university culture in the United States in the 1870s, driven in large part by the research university and the PhD credential. It then examines American literature's relation to lower-level schools and college- and university-level “English,” along with its image as part of the school curriculum. It also considers American literature's perceived inferior “intellectual” status and the factors that hindered its ascent into the realms of higher scholarship in colleges and universities. The chapter concludes by analyzing the views of Albert H. Smyth, Professor of English Literature at the Central High School of Philadelphia, about American literature as a school subject.

Keywords:   school curriculum, American literature, United States, PhD credential, lower-level schools, English, colleges, universities, Albert H. Smyth

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