Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Joseph McCullough

Number of Pages



Scholarly researchers have seldom recognized the college classroom textbook as a valid document of literary history, presumably because it is such an ordinary, taken-for-granted fixture in the academic environment. Canons by Consensus: Critical Trends and American Literature Anthologies, however, examines in detail the evolving critical reputations of thirty American authors in the twentieth century as reflected in these assigned anthologies. A study of nearly eighty college-level collections of American literature marketed between 1919 and 1998 shows that scholarly trends have significantly shaped their editors' perceptions of American writers over the last eighty years, indeed that the shifting paradigms within the introductions and textual selections of the books demonstrably corresponded with significant developments in the field of American literary scholarship; While literary anthologies published since World War I serve as a valuable index to evolutions in scholarly tastes, they have also simultaneously influenced the reputations and readership of many American writers. As it turns out, numerous authors generally supposed to have been neglected by critics, scholars, and anthology editors of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s actually received considerable critical attention and appeared regularly in anthologies of American literature. Thus, academic anthologies constitute an overlooked resource for studying American literature as well as an irrefutable record of the academy's literary preferences throughout the twentieth century.


American; Anthologies; Canons; College; College textbook; Consensus; Critical; Critical Trends; Literature; Literary History; Textbooks; Trends

Controlled Subject

American literature; Education, Higher; Language arts

File Format


File Size

11970.56 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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