Stephen CraneÆs Maggie and Upton SinclairÆs The Jungle
In ôExpanding the Canon of American Realism,ö Elizabeth Ammons argues that the canon of American realism needs to reflect its social context of multiculturalism. The canon of realism is defined by teachers, who choose what texts they want to teach about; therefore, the canon has been composed of works that are considered highly teachable. In that respect, it is subjective and can just as easily be changed according to one teacherÆs idea of teachability as anotherÆs. Elizabeth Ammons takes the position that ôàif American realism means anything, it means attention to the multiple realities figured in the work of the broadest possible range of authors writing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuriesö (439).
Ammons contrasts her view of an expanded canon of American realism, a complexity, conflict, and contradictions of the nation itself,ö reflecting the melting-pot theory of the United States dating back to the nineteenth century. She sums up her position by stating multicultural one, with a monocultural view by pointing out that a monocultural view ôdoes not begin to capture the multiplicity of cultural perspectives that literary production of the period--evincing what Warner Berthoff wisely called a ferment--brought into being,ö whereas a multicultural canon ôyields no unified story about realismö (449). The expanded canon Ammons puts forth is ôfilled with characters who embody distinctly diverse cultural perspectivesö (446). She suggests that although a multicultural view cannot be tied up as neatly in a classroom as a monocultural one, the multicultural canon ôcontains the cultural range, that ôan expanded canon looks, little by little, more like Americaö (450).
In light of the perspective Ammons brings to the selection of texts to be taught in our educational system, Stephen CraneÆs Maggie and Upton SinclairÆs The Jungle are tex...