Canon, Cultural Memory, and Positive Knowledge in Humanities Education

Alan Karass
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In academia, there are three categories of intellectual material. At the forefront is the canon that is the focus of classroom instruction. In the humanities, this is the body of literature, music and art that functions as the foundation of curricula. These works exemplify the aesthetics, values, methods and history of man’s endeavors in the humanities. The second category comprises material that is collected by libraries and museums. This body of material possesses works, both in and out of the canon, which preserve cultural memory and capture the essence of man’s intellectual achievements. The third category is best described by the epistemological term 'positive knowledge', and refers to all knowledge that has been confirmed to exist. This category includes, but is not limited to, material that is in the canon and collected as cultural memory. It also describes information and extant works that have not been collected or studied.

This inquiry into the connection between intellectual material and humanities education examines the relationship between the three categories of information and the associated issues facing scholars, teachers, students, libraries and museums. These questions will be explored:

How does intellectual material get evaluated and categorized? How do the bodies of information in the three categories relate to one another? How does material move between categories? How can scholars, teachers and students better understand the nature of information, the categories of intellectual material, and the relationships between the information in those categories? How does this effect the way librarians and curators understand and evaluate their collections?

Keywords: Canon, Culturual Memory, Philosophy of Information, Curriculum, Libraries, Museums
Stream: Knowledge
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Canon, Cultural Memory, and Positive Knowledge in Humanities Education

Alan Karass

Music Librarian & Lecturer, College of the Holy Cross

Alan Karass is a graduate of Clark University (B.A., Music), Simmons College (M.S., Library and Information Science), and the University of Connecticut (M.A., Historical Musicology). His thesis, "The 'Ach wie nichtig' cantatas of Telemann", explores the relationship between harmonic motion, early eighteenth-century Lutheran theology and North German funeral rites in these works. Mr. Karass coaches recorder and early music ensembles throughout the U.S., and is currently President of the American Recorder Society. He is co-editor of the journal Music Reference Services Quarterly, and has written articles for Serials Librarian, American Recorder, Music Library Association Newsletter, and Boston Early Music News. He recently completed a survey of the literature on sound healing. This project culminated in an annotated bibliography on the subject which was presented at the Bibliography Roundtable at the Music Library Association 2005 Annual Meeting in Vancouver as well as at the Fall 2005 Meeting of the New England/New York-Ontario Chapters of the Music Library Association. Mr. Karass is interested in the relationship between curriculum, classroom instruction, and libraries. He explores ways in which both classroom and libraries experiences contribute to an inviting learning environment.

Ref: H06P0113