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Canonized Women and Women Canonizers: Gender Dynamics in The Norton Anthology of English Literature’s Eight Editions

Abstract

This article addresses the gender dynamics of the included canonized literature of each edition of the Norton Anthology of English Literature as related to the gender dynamics of the editorial staff, the publication date of each of the eight editions, and the feminist criticism prominent at the time of publication. The project combines quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the construction of the literary canon. The project finds that there is a direct correspondence between the number of women editors and the percent of the total pages of each edition occupied by works by women writers. The project also finds a correlation between the gender makeup of the editorial staff and a leap in included women writers in the fifth edition and the emergence of gynocriticism in the 1980s. The project recognizes the establishment of a separate canon for women’s literature that corresponds with this shift. The research indicates that as time passes, the inclusion of women writers in the literary canon and the editorial staff of the Anthology generally increase.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Professor Anna Sun and Professor Marla Kohlman as well as the entire faculty of the Department of Sociology of Kenyon College for their assistance and collaborative guidance on this project.

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Correspondence to Gillian Gualtieri.

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Gualtieri, G. Canonized Women and Women Canonizers: Gender Dynamics in The Norton Anthology of English Literature’s Eight Editions. Gend. Issues 28, 94–109 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-011-9099-y

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Keywords

  • Canonicity
  • Feminist literary theory
  • Norton anthology of English literature