And the … It describes those books, which have dubious authorship or the authority, or where the accuracy of the writers is questionable. Secular and literary applications of the term “canon” refer to a constellation of highly valued, high-cultural texts that have traditionally acted as arbiters of literary value, determining the discipline of literary studies as well as influencing the critical and cultural reception of literature. This sense of the term makes canon opposite to “apocrypha,” which means “written works having anonymous authors.” The Bible was considered a yardstick to evaluate other literary pieces, according to a certain criterion. Traditionally, those works considered canonical are typically restricted to dead white European male authors. The words ‘canon’ and ‘classic’ both evoke notions of evaluation and hierarchy. Furthermore, philosophical and political biases also resulted in disputes over literary canons. The ‘who‘ is followed by the ‘why‘. This battle of the books sparks ire about who decides upon the formation of the canon. People of color have become more prominent parts of the canon as a past emphasis on Eurocentrism has waned. Literary canons, like the works that comprise them and the judgments of those who create them, are constantly changing. The Western Literary Canon is still essential for required reading in school because of how it has pervaded all aspects of our culture. The function of a canon has always raised confusion and complexity. The characteristic that has earned Melville a place in the literary canon, though, is not his stylistic skill, but rather, like Dickinson and Hawthorne, the selection of his subject. The process in which a work is canonized is completely subjective. The characteristic that has earned Melville a place in the literary canon, though, is not his stylistic skill, but rather, like Dickinson and Hawthorne, the selection of his subject. Many modern critics and teachers argue that women, minorities, and non-Western writers are left out of the literary canon unfairly. How the Canon Changes Synonym Discussion of canon. Literature, as an art form, can also include works in various non-fiction genres, such as autobiography, diaries, memoir, letters, and the essay. But, of course, there is a great deal of debate. Originated from the Greek term “kanon,” canon means “a yard stick,” or “a measuring rod.” Generally, the term canon is used in three different meanings. Though modern canons of literature have traditionally been set by universities or other official bodies, there is no authoritative body that scholars know today from ancient Egypt that would have designated an Egyptian literary canon. If so, perhaps there is a need for us to dust off those old books and re-investigate that Black Literary Canon. A literary canon is a classification of literature. The collected works of William Shakespeare, for instance, would be part of the canon of western literature, since his writing and writing style has had a significant impact on nearly all aspects of that genre. Countless phrases and terms we use every day, such as “Trojan Horse,” “Sisyphean,” “star-crossed lovers,” and “Dickensian,” came from the Western Literary Canon. There is discord, political posturing and perennial arguments about the ‘literary canon‘. Literature is a method of recording, preserving, and transmitting knowledge and entertainment. The “canon” is defined by dictionary.com as “a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine.” The very definition […] This means that the literary work is relevant to ongo… The term “canon” is also confused with a homonym “cannon,” which means “a military weapon.”. Take a 19th century American literature course, for instance. For example, contemporary writers such as Louise Erdrich ("The Round House), Amy Tan ("The Joy Luck Club"), and James Baldwin ("Notes of a Native Son") are representative of entire subgenres of African-American, Asian-American, and Indigenous styles of writing. the body of ecclesiastical law. Paper type: Essay: Pages: 2 (268 words) Downloads: 41: Views: 149: A literary canon is a classification of literature. An example of an apocryphal text in Christianity would be the Gospel of Mary Magdelene. 2. countable noun A canon of texts is a list of them that is accepted as genuine or important. The Western Literary Canon is still essential for required reading in school because of how it has pervaded all aspects of our culture. Arguments about which works are worthy of further examination and study are likely to continue as cultural norms and mores shift and evolve. This video covers what the literary canon is and perspectives about what to include and why. 4 a : an accepted principle or rule. Expansion of the literary canon in the 20th century. a. The collected works of William Shakespeare, for instance, would be part of the canon of western literature, since his writing and writing style has had a significant impact on nearly all aspects of that genre. Literary Canon: The most relevant definition of canon is “an authoritative list, as of the works of an author”. This is based on some already deduced rules intended to be applied on the future pieces in the same genre. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. The term “literary canon” refers to a body of books, narratives and other texts considered to be the most important and influential of a particular time period or place. Yet the sense of definition #3 ("standard, criterion") is also strongly implied as the means by which individual works find their way into the literary canon. A group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field: "the durable canon of American short fiction" (William Styron). For example, the Bible – both written in Hebrew, and even translated … Over time, some works become less pertinent in the canon as they're replaced by more modern counterparts. How to use canon in a sentence. Derived from the Greek word kan ôn meaning measuring rod or standard, the canon has been compiled by literary critics, scholars and teachers over time in order to assert which works of literature are ‘essential’. Generally, the term canon is used in three different meanings. My theory is that it’s a matter of statistics. One of the definitions is, “the books of the Bible officially recognized by the Church,”. Literary Canon Definition . he American Heritage Dictionary . In fiction and literature, the canon is the collection of works considered representative of a period or genre. This, of course, has led to many disputes among literary scholars over the years. The Egyptian Literary Canon Definition. I’ve a theory about this, which applies not just to the literary canon but to great art and thought in general. T he widely debated term ‘literary canon’ is used to classify a group of literary works that are considered the most important from a certain time or place. To Kill a Mockingbird (Paperback) Harper Lee. As the term is ordinarily used, "literary canon" is defined by definition #7 above: "an authoritative list, as of the works of an author." Chaucer’s canon includes “The Canterbury Tales”, for instance, but it does not include the apocryphal work, “The Plowman’s Tale,” which has been mistakenly attributed to him in the past. However, Shakespeare’s earned appreciation for these works became yardstick by which other writers to judge their places in literature. The “canon” is defined by dictionary.com as “a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine.” The very definition […] Just as controversial as the discussions engendered about the canon, so too is the definition. The third definition of the term indicates the literary writings of a particular author, which are considered by scholars and critics in general to be the genuine creations of that particular author. Their literary works obtain in themselves the position of literary canon which the successive writers use as touchstone to compare their creations with. The works, traditionally considered as following a certain canon, belong to the writers who have long been dead. noun an ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority and, in the Roman Catholic Church, approved by the pope. It is compromised of literary works that share similar or related characteristics and are considered to be the most important of a specific time frame or place. This approach of looking at, and following a writer’s work for measuring literary excellence and success is, in fact, called a “Shakespearean canon.”. Shakespeare and Chaucer are part of the canon of Western literature, so you might read their work in an English class. Originated from the Greek term “kanon,” canon means “a yard stick,” or “a measuring rod.”. For many decades, English writers compared themselves with Shakespeare. Secondly, students of literature use it to refer to the writings included in anthologies, or textbooks under certain genres, and thus are evaluated according to the genre under which they are placed. First, it is defined as a traditional collection of writings, against which other writings are evaluated. - Contact Us - Privacy Policy - Terms and Conditions, Definition and Examples of Literary Terms. has eleven separate definitions of the term canon, the most relevant of which is "an authoritative list, as of the works of an author" and "a basis for judgment; standard; criterion. All Rights Reserved. There have been countless discussions launched about the need to teach the historically accepted literary pieces included in the canon. William Shakespeare wrote both tragedies and comedies for Elizabethan audiences, throughout the late 16th, and early 17th centuries. Apocrypha is also a literary term, which means “hidden,” or “anonymous literary pieces,” which were considered not to have confirmed to the rules set by the written Bible, in Hebrew or in Latin. Literary Canon Definition. Just as controversial as the discussions engendered about the canon, so too is the definition. It is compromised of literary works that share similar or related characteristics and are considered to be the most important of a specific time frame or place. During Whitman's lifetime, it was not necessarily read within that context. Canon A list of authors or works considered to be central to the identity of a given literary tradition or culture. What is the difference between cannon and canon? Some apocryphal works are never granted formal acceptance but are influential nevertheless. This secular use of the word is derived from its original meaning as a listing of all authorized books in the Bible. By studying canonical works of the past, we gain a new appreciation for them from a modern perspective. “In a summer season when soft was the sun, I clothed myself in a cloak as I shepherd were, Habit like a hermit’s unholy in works, And went wide in the world  wonders to hear. For centuries, it was populated primarily by white men and was not representative of Western culture as a whole. Another word for official. In religious terms, a canon is a standard of judgment or a text containing those views, such as the Bible or the Koran. Literature is affected by the experiences and thoughts of writers and readers. The American literary canon, or the books deemed important enough to teach in schools and survive over generations, is a fraught subject. 11. a member of a religious community living under common rules and bound by vows. But lesser-known writers of the past, such as William Blake and Matthew Arnold, have faded in relevance, replaced by modern counterparts like Ernest Hemingway ("The Sun Also Rises"), Langston Hughes ("Harlem" ), and Toni Morrison ("Beloved"). For instance, the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer are still considered significant. Canon. a : an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture. First, it is defined as a traditional collection of writings, against which other writings are evaluated. Topics: Novel, Literature, Genre Pages: 1 (267 words) Published: November 25, 2012. The western canon was revolted in the 80’s by a group of people who claimed women had been excluded from its collection. The accepted body of work that comprises the canon of Western literature has evolved and changed over the years, however. There should be little debate. As the term is ordinarily used, "literary canon" is defined by definition #7 above: "an authoritative list, as … A literary canon is a classification of literature. The definition of literary canon Greek origins of the word kanon; Classification of works within the literary canon Another name for literary canon Authors included in the literary canon A canon can also be a body of work, like the Shakespeare canon, which includes all of the Bard's plays and poems. Some writers and artists' work is not as well appreciated in their time, and their writing becomes part of the canon many years after their deaths. c : a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works the canon of great literature. Literary canons are more like collection of works measured by others on the basis of literary skill and value. Canon definition is - a regulation or dogma decreed by a church council. In the twentieth century there was a general reassessment of the literary canon, including women's writing, post-colonial literatures, gay and lesbian literature, writing by people of colour, working people's writing, and the cultural productions of historically marginalized groups. More often than not, it is those works that are considered contextually relevant that gain entry into the canon. This secular use of the word is derived from its original meaning as a listing of all authorized books in the Bible. Many teachers and schools rely on the canon to teach students about literature, so it's crucial that it includes works that are representative of society, providing a snapshot of a given point in time. It is also described as “a basis for judgment; standard; criterion.”. This is a highly controversial text not widely recognized in the Church — but it is believed to be the words of one of Jesus' closest companions. Esther Lombardi, M.A., is a journalist who has covered books and literature for over twenty years. Because if history does not provide us with the cultural armor to withstand these impending racial attacks, we will be doomed to live the worst of our existence in the future instead of celebrating overcoming our obstacles from the past. Jane Austen is one of those female writers who came to the limelight by breaking all the traditional and conventional shackles. Literature, therefore, changes in the context of changing experience and thought. Definition and Characteristics, Word Choice in English Composition and Literature, Definitions and Discussions of Medieval Rhetoric, M.A., English Literature, California State University - Sacramento, B.A., English, California State University - Sacramento. The canon is the use of archaic language that Chaucer used in his works but not used in this part. For example: For a very long time the world considered the Greek epics of Homer, the Iliad, and Odyssey, as the most sublime examples of literature. The process in which a work is canonized is completely subjective. The American literary canon, or the books deemed important enough to teach in schools and survive over generations, is a fraught subject. Abstract. canon Canon (one “n”) refers to a collection of rules or texts that are considered to be authoritative. She wrote mild and smiling romantic novels, such as Pride and Prejudice and Emma, setting them in England, and making marriage her subject to be explored. Hence, a number of critical circles suggest that the idea of having specific canons for specific genres needs to be abandoned. Countless phrases and terms we use every day, such as “Trojan Horse,” “Sisyphean,” “star-crossed lovers,” and “Dickensian,” came from the Western Literary Canon. Homer, and the other writers inspired by him, have made their way to the list of the greatest literary brains of the world since antiquity – only by following the literary canons of writing. There have been countless discussions launched about the need to teach the historically accepted literary pieces included in the canon. It is compromised of literary works that share similar or related characteristics and are considered to be the most important of a specific time frame or place. Sometimes within religious traditions, as views evolve or change, some formerly canonical texts become "apocryphal," meaning outside the realm of what's considered representative. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Cultural Significance and Canon Literature, Biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Essayist, What Is a Novel? The issue of canonical literature is a thorny one. In other words, it means “a long list of works taken as authentic.” For example, the Bible – both written in Hebrew, and even translated versions. On the contrary, some other critics advocate the expansion of canons by including the extended range of sampling to broaden the horizon literary canons. The term “literary canon” refers to a body of books, narratives and other texts considered to be the most important and influential of a particular time period or place. The literary canon is a collection of works by which others are measured in terms of literary skill and value. A literary canon is a group or body of related literary works, often sanctioned by an authority. (shelved 32 times as literary-canon) avg rating 4.28 … In fiction and literature, the canon is the collection of works considered representative of a period or genre. This is especially true of female writers such as Charlotte Bronte ("Jane Eyre"), Jane Austen ("Pride and Prejudice"), Emily Dickinson ("Because I Could Not Stop for Death"), and Virginia Woolf ("A Room of One's Own"). T he widely debated term ‘literary canon’ is used to classify a group of literary works that are considered the most important from a certain time or place. But on a May morning on Malvern hills, A marvel befell me of fairy, me thought.”. Copyright © 2020 Literary Devices. Canon A list of authors or works considered to be central to the identity of a given literary tradition or culture. Contact us - Privacy Policy - Terms and Conditions, definition and Examples literary...: Any Shmoop scholar worth his or her salt knows all about the Western canon was revolted in 80... 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