Canon/Canon Formation • The term canon, from the Greek word for ruler or measuring stick, originally referred to the books of the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible that were approved by church authorities as the revealed word of God.
Great Books/Major Authors • The term Canon has been adapted to literary criticism to designate those works and authors whom the literary establishment consider to be “major.” British writers like Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Wordsworth have always had a place in the English canon. Can you think of any other canonical authors who write in English? How about authors who write in another language who are considered to be canonical?
Some Questions???? • Who makes up the literary establishment? How did they get to be “in charge”? • Who has been included in and/or excluded from the canon? • Why is it important to recognize that a canon exists?
More Questions???? • What factors influence how a book or author is chosen to be part of the canon? • -- repeated references by critics and writers • -- importance of work to community • --inclusion on curricula • .Link to another set of criteria • Link to list of great ideas
Do canons change? How? • What kinds of events could change the way canonical texts are viewed? • Who has the power to change the lists? • Why is changing the lists important?
What are we reading? • Take a quick look at the list of writers in the table of contents. How many do you recognize? Which texts are you interested in reading? How often would you pick up a book by a writer whose name you don’t recognize? How does it affect our sense of /or definition of literature to read noncanonical works?