A friend is doing research into perceptions of 'what is classic literature', via an online questionnaire.
The methodology is to collect a small amount of personal information about you, and then ask you to nominate ten classic works of literature. You are also allowed to dissent (of course) from the idea that there are such classics, or the very idea of 'classic' as a meaningful term.
I have an idea that classicism rests on the claim that things can be grouped into 'classes' and that there is an ideal form within that class. Thus there is an ideal form of the sonnet (for example). Classicism is like Platonism, whereby instances are judged by their tendency towards the ideal. A 'classic' is something that most corresponds to that ideal.
Romanticism on the other hand rejects that notion, in favour of celebration of diversity. My personal instincts are more towards this point of view - I don't like Platonism very much. I think it is this instinct for romanticism that leads people to reject the idea of the 'ideal'.
An additional problem is that dominant political groups (such as rich white old men) are inclined to use their dominance to claim themselves as exemplifiers of the ideal. Which understandably gets on everyone else's wick.
Despite all this, I think there are 'classics'. I think our experience of the world is mediated by our experience of art, and some works of art are more powerful than others. The classics are those which set the standard for all that follows.