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Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2043-0701
  • E-ISSN: 2043-071X



Readers of American short stories have only a limited number of hours to devote to literature, in which we have infinite options of texts. Unless pursuing a particular project, most readers might look to anthologies for textual guidance, assuming that an anthology offers the easiest access to what is ‘best’ in a literary category. Any collection of texts is, ultimately, the choice of one or of a few publishers and editors. This article focuses on a body of texts that is largely neglected from the canon of American short stories, that of the worker-writer from the 1930s. After a brief summary of current concerns with canon formation, I perform a case study on author Jack Conroy and other contributors to his 1930s magazine, the Anvil, to prove that their work is, for the most part, forgotten by the most popular collections of American short stories. I then suggest that it is not worthwhile to insist that this corpus be represented in the canon, but rather to ask what happens to literature that, for one reason or another, becomes ‘anticanonical’. I suggest that the role of these proletarian texts is not to be largely read by today’s readers, but to have nourished the spreading diversity of American authors and readers.


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