Ca(n)non Fodder No More: Disrupting Common Arguments that Support a Canonical Empire

SR Toliver, Heidi Lyn Hadley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper uses an assignment given to the authors’ preservice teachers to address and push back against common arguments used to uphold canonical text selection in secondary ELA classrooms. Using the metaphor of canon defense as empire building first made by Toni Morrison in the canon debates of the 1980s, the authors examine the weaknesses in arguments made that posit that canonical texts are necessary reading for secondary ELA classrooms because they are the highest quality available texts, have the allusions necessary for entrance into scholarly and literary spaces, and address the most important themes for classroom exploration. The authors argue that canon disruption in ELA classrooms can help to dismantle various institutional and systemic inequalities the canon reflects and supports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Language and Literacy Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • canon disruption
  • teacher education
  • secondary ELA
  • curricular Whiteness
  • canonical texts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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