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. (shelved 32 times as literary-canon) avg rating 4.28 … 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. Paper type: Essay: Pages: 2 (268 words) Downloads: 41: Views: 149: A literary canon is a classification of literature. Jane Austen is one of those female writers who came to the limelight by breaking all the traditional and conventional shackles. 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. This battle of the books sparks ire about who decides upon the formation of the canon. However, Shakespeare’s earned appreciation for these works became yardstick by which other writers to judge their places in literature. 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"). Countless phrases and terms we use every day, such as “Trojan Horse,” “Sisyphean,” “star-crossed lovers,” and “Dickensian,” came from the Western Literary Canon. 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. However, canon is a literary rule that is used to evaluate books and writings against certain models, such as plays are evaluated against Oedipus the King by Sophocles, where Oedipus the King is a yardstick which has set canons for plays. People of color have become more prominent parts of the canon as a past emphasis on Eurocentrism has waned. One of the definitions is, “the books of the Bible officially recognized by the Church,”. As the term is ordinarily used, "literary canon" is defined by definition #7 above: "an authoritative list, as of the works of an author." This secular use of the word is derived from its original meaning as a listing of all authorized books in the Bible. The American literary canon, or the books deemed important enough to teach in schools and survive over generations, is a fraught subject. An example of an apocryphal text in Christianity would be the Gospel of Mary Magdelene. It is also described as “a basis for judgment; standard; criterion.”. Women, minorities, and non-Western writers were kept out of this kind of arbitrary practice for a long time – until they won recognition such as the writers of the Harlem Renaissance. During Whitman's lifetime, it was not necessarily read within that context. I’ve a theory about this, which applies not just to the literary canon but to great art and thought in general. My theory is that it’s a matter of statistics. 11. a member of a religious community living under common rules and bound by vows. he American Heritage Dictionary . 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. 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. Canon A list of authors or works considered to be central to the identity of a given literary tradition or culture. 1. countable noun A canon is a member of the clergy who is on the staff of a cathedral. The United States is home to so many cultures that it is impossible to encapsulate the best work without leaving out important figures. "Canon is also defined as "the books of the Bible officially recognized by the Church," and the idea of a literary canon also implies some such official status. The Western Literary Canon is still essential for required reading in school because of how it has pervaded all aspects of our culture. 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. 4 a : an accepted principle or rule. A literary canon is a classification of literature. This is based on some already deduced rules intended to be applied on the future pieces in the same genre. Moreover, only the white and male writers of antiquity have been given membership to this exclusive club. 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. As she used round characters in her novels, uniquely different from her counterparts, this became her style, and finally a canon against which other female writers would be evaluated. For centuries, it was populated primarily by white men and was not representative of Western culture as a whole. By studying canonical works of the past, we gain a new appreciation for them from a modern perspective. Literary canons, like the works that comprise them and the judgments of those who create them, are constantly changing. First, it is defined as a traditional collection of writings, against which other writings are evaluated. For many decades, English writers compared themselves with Shakespeare. a. As the term is ordinarily used, "literary canon" is defined by definition #7 above: "an authoritative list, as … In religious terms, a canon is a standard of judgment or a text containing those views, such as the Bible or the Koran. It is intended for use in an introductory literature course. How the Canon Changes 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. For instance, the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer are still considered significant. The “canon” is defined by dictionary.com as “a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine.” The very definition […] Literary Canon Definition. 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"). The function of a canon has always raised confusion and complexity. The literary canon is a collection of works by which others are measured in terms of literary skill and value. However, we have no idea whether the popular and well-known author was a genuine person. There is discord, political posturing and perennial arguments about the ‘literary canon‘. Sometimes within religious traditions, as views evolve or change, some formerly canonical texts become "apocryphal," meaning outside the realm of what's considered representative. 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. This context is important to the make-up of a literary canon. For example, the Bible – both written in Hebrew, and even translated … In other words, it means “a long list of works taken as authentic.”. Synonym Discussion of canon. Take a 19th century American literature course, for instance. canon Canon (one “n”) refers to a collection of rules or texts that are considered to be authoritative. 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. The accepted body of work that comprises the canon of Western literature has evolved and changed over the years, however. There have been countless discussions launched about the need to teach the historically accepted literary pieces included in the canon. The American literary canon, or the books deemed important enough to teach in schools and survive over generations, is a fraught subject. 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. If so, perhaps there is a need for us to dust off those old books and re-investigate that Black Literary Canon. 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. Definition: Any Shmoop scholar worth his or her salt knows all about the western literary canon. 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. The ‘who‘ is followed by the ‘why‘. Esther Lombardi, M.A., is a journalist who has covered books and literature for over twenty years. First, it is defined as a traditional collection of writings, against which other writings are evaluated. 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. “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. c : a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works the canon of great literature. 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. Literary canons are more like collection of works measured by others on the basis of literary skill and value. When considering the term “literary canon,” one is ultimately considering the whole of the seminal works in the arts that have come to define a genre. - Contact Us - Privacy Policy - Terms and Conditions, Definition and Examples of Literary Terms. 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’. Canon A list of authors or works considered to be central to the identity of a given literary tradition or culture. Literature, as an art form, can also include works in various non-fiction genres, such as autobiography, diaries, memoir, letters, and the essay. 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. 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. It describes those books, which have dubious authorship or the authority, or where the accuracy of the writers is questionable. Topics: Novel, Literature, Genre Pages: 1 (267 words) Published: November 25, 2012. 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. 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. Literary Canon: The most relevant definition of canon is “an authoritative list, as of the works of an author”. Just as controversial as the discussions engendered about the canon, so too is the definition. The “canon” is defined by dictionary.com as “a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine.” The very definition […] The Western Literary Canon is still essential for required reading in school because of how it has pervaded all aspects of our culture. 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. A group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing a field: "the durable canon of American short fiction" (William Styron). Many modern critics and teachers argue that women, minorities, and non-Western writers are left out of the literary canon unfairly. 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. Canon. Used quite often in fan fiction to differentiate between the official storyline in which the fan fiction is based on. Taken from The Plowman’s Tale, these lines exemplify the third definition of canon. Over time, some works become less pertinent in the canon as they're replaced by more modern counterparts. 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 meaning covers the entire literature generally thought as suitable for aesthetic admiration and academic use. Arguments about which works are worthy of further examination and study are likely to continue as cultural norms and mores shift and evolve. This secular use of the word is derived from its original meaning as a listing of all authorized books in the Bible. Countless phrases and terms we use every day, such as “Trojan Horse,” “Sisyphean,” “star-crossed lovers,” and “Dickensian,” came from the Western Literary Canon. The Egyptian Literary Canon Definition. The western canon was revolted in the 80’s by a group of people who claimed women had been excluded from its collection. The issue of canonical literature is a thorny one. 2. countable noun A canon of texts is a list of them that is accepted as genuine or important. The works, traditionally considered as following a certain canon, belong to the writers who have long been dead. This means that the literary work is relevant to ongo… Abstract. This, of course, has led to many disputes among literary scholars over the years. Shakespeare and Chaucer are part of the canon of Western literature, so you might read their work in an English class. Their literary works obtain in themselves the position of literary canon which the successive writers use as touchstone to compare their creations with. noun an ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority and, in the Roman Catholic Church, approved by the pope. the body of ecclesiastical law. In fiction and literature, the canon is the collection of works considered representative of a period or genre. 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. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Cultural Significance and Canon Literature, Biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Essayist, What Is a Novel?

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