The Emergence of "Literature": Making and Reading the English Canon in the Eighteenth Century

  title={The Emergence of "Literature": Making and Reading the English Canon in the Eighteenth Century},
  author={Trevor Thornton Ross},
  pages={397 - 422}
  • T. Ross
  • Published 1 June 1996
  • Art, Education
  • ELH
The idea of literature, it has often been noted, is of relatively recent emergence. In Foucault's version of the claim, the idea was born of a radical realignment of the disciplines of knowledge, a realignment that, by the nineteenth century, had left a space for the "pure act of writing" to curve back upon itself and to reconstitute itself as an independent "form of language that we now call 'literature'." 1 We have learned to question this notion of literature's autonomous "purity"; my… 
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