Northrop Frye’s Legacy: Toward a Dialogic Interaction Between Literary and Cultural Studies

Wang Ning


Northrop Frye scholars usually think that his legacy lies in the four fields he was engaged: British (elite) literary studies, Canadian (postcolonial) literature, myth studies, religious and culture studies. Although the author agrees with this summary, he still holds that it is far from covering all Frye’s contributions to human knowledge and world literary and cultural theory. To the author, one of Frye’s important legacies is his border-crossing studies of literature which is close to cultural studies in general. From a unique Chinese perspective, the author discusses the following three relevant themes: the relationship between comparative literature studies and cultural studies, Frye’s efforts to push Canadian literature from the periphery to the centre, and the way Chinese scholars have enthusiastically embraced Frye. Laying particular emphasis on the last theme, the author thinks that Frye’s relations with Chinese culture and literature are represented in the two directions: classical Chinese literature and culture has given inspirations to him and to some extent helped establish his systematic body of myth-archetypal critical theory, and his theory has in turn inspired contemporary Chinese literary critics and scholars to modernize China’s comparative literature and literary theory studies. In this sense, Frye should be viewed as major thinker in the 20th century world.


Northrop Frye, legacy, cultural studies, Chinese literature and culture

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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