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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Harold Bloom and the Green Paper: the Western canon in South Africa
Author:Heyns, MichielISNI
Periodical:The English Academy Review
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:educational policy
higher education
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/10131759685310061
Abstract:This article deals with the role of the Western literary canon, as exposed by Harold Bloom in his 'The Western canon: the books and school of the ages' (1995), in South Africa's higher education programme. To Bloom, the canon is self-evidently worth reading, or it is nothing; literature has no social function, and literary criticism, as an art, always was and always will be an elitist phenomenon. The future of university studies in South Africa is spelled out by the Green Paper on Higher Education Transformation (1996), issued by the Department of Education in South Africa. According to this paper, higher education is responsible for the socialization of enlightened, responsible and constructively critical citizens. By Bloom's description of the canon, it has no part to play in higher education as defined by the Green Paper. The present author, himself a teacher of English, does not want to simply dismiss Bloom's position. He believes that the canon, or some form of it, is worth preserving and that literature needs to play a role in the country's transition. Literature has something to offer students - both as citizens of 'a new social order' and for their 'deep self'. The curricula and course designs of South Africa's higher literature education need to reflect and illuminate this tension. Bibliogr. Commentary by Laurence Wright in: The English Academy Review, vol. 15 (1998), p. 24-31.