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The paper addresses transformations of American literary canons from diachronic perspective. It is argued that the following principal stages in this process may be identified: transition from ancient Greek and Roman legacy to previous and contemporary British writings (18th c.); "Americanization" of the canon marked by fierce polemics (19th – early 20th c.); functioning of "protocanon" based on genteel tradition (turn of the 19th – 20th cc.); building of democratic-individualistic canon arounddoi:10.26565/2521-6481-2017-1-9 fatcat:fzntbqnsbfe5tlc7wcllsn62uu