Classic Literature Or Social Construct?


Classic literature is neither timeless nor fundamental. Writing is bound by its place in history, both as we read it and as it was written, and the idea of a universal experience is simply another construct of the dominant culture, argues Eric Williams, over at The Airship:

When we treat The Classics as preordained with intrinsic value, we obscure the fact that what is Classic and what is not has been determined by individuals with discrete and understandable histories. Most often, those individuals were white men in European or American universities, and their choices reflect characteristic politics and values dependant on the context of their time.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →