In the wake of postcolonial studies, the culture wars, and the ongoing canon debate, the task of constructing one’s own pedagogical canon as a responsible educator continues to be an arduous one. Drawing in part on the work of Robert Coles on using literature for therapeutic purposes, as well as John Guillory’s notion that representation, in the political sense, is misapplied when it comes to canon formation, this article suggests that professors rethink how they put together their own syllabi. It asks that they consider shifting their primary criteria for inclusion from the much-disputed ideal of representativeness to one of relatability, defined in this instance as a student’s potential ethical engagement with a work. The central idea is that the student’s intuitive identification with some characters and texts should actually be encouraged, not dismissed, as a means of promoting greater engagement, more active learning, and a critical analysis of the text’s and their own personal values.

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