According to the historian William H. McNeill, a "civilization" is the largest possible community united by "a shared literary canon and expectations about human behavior framed by that canon." If we apply this definition to Huntington's list of major world civilizations, we get an interesting result: the Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, and Islamic ones definitely are civilizations; the African and Latin American definitely are not (and never have been); the Orthodox not really; and the Western, not any more. The West remains the most powerful alliance in the history of the world (in terms of military, economic, financial, and informational domination). It shares certain institutions and is said to possess shared values, but it no longer has a common canon. During his stay at the Institute, Yuri Slezkine will be working on a comparative history of canons and scriptures, focusing, in particular, on Western Christendom and its heirs. More specifically, he will consider the nationalization and fragmentation of the school curriculum in Europe, the rise of "Western Civilization" university courses in the United States, and the eventual decline of both vernacular canons and pan-Western rhetoric in the early twenty first century.