A canon for general education: literary evaluation for didactic purposes Cover Image
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Der Kanon der Bildung: Literarische Wertung in didaktischer Absicht
A canon for general education: literary evaluation for didactic purposes

Author(s): Harro Müller-Michaels
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Ústav svetovej literatúry, Slovenská akadémia vied
Keywords: Canon. Literary evaluation. Literary didactics. General education and culture (Bildung). Thought-images (Denkbilder); Curriculum of literary works; Context formation normativity/normative theories

Summary/Abstract: During the last twenty years canon has been taken as a register of literature for the interested public as well as professional readers. It is a challenge, therefore, to revive the initial meaning of canon as obligatory reading for the general education of the next generation. The article starts with a brief outline of the major positions of research in the humanities on the issue of literary evaluation and the controversy about normative and descriptive theories. Both are connected with the key purpose of general education in secondary schools. The great variety of aims provides arguments for choosing works of literature in the light of didactic intentions. The article then focuses on the description of teaching sequences including decisions for the selection of concrete literary works, e.g. novels by Uwe Timm (2003) and Melinda Nadj Abonji (2010). Conducted in three consecutive steps with altogether eight criteria, such canon decisions become plausible in theory as well as practicable in educational contexts: Literary Evaluation (e.g. polyvalence, self-reference), Didactic Justification (e.g. exemplarity, potentiality of significance) and Context Formation (e.g. by motif or literary form). Especially complex literary texts with their inherent thought-images (Denkbilder) give rise to an unlimited process of interpretation, enabling young readers to widen their knowledge and broaden their competence.

  • Issue Year: VII/2015
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 42-54
  • Page Count: 13