Friday, 19 May 2017

Canon Formation in English

The word canon refers to the word 'Kanon' which means 'a measuring rod'. In the beginning, the word was used to distinguish the Bible from other literary works in order to highlight and claim the authority of the Bible all around the world. This same set of principles were used to make the literary works of different authors to the social status of standard work.

Canon formation is done on two principles. The first one is that all the works of an author will not be considered as canonical. Though Shakespeare has written many works, all of his works are not fit to describe as canonical. Some works are selected into the canon. How does it happen? The second principle is that these works have been made into the canon by general consensus of scholars, teachers and critics. Therefore all literary works that are based on Euro-centric  ideas were included in the canon. After renaissance, canon formation became widespread as English literature gained an international standard.

Canon formation is neither an objective nor a judicious process. The consensus created by the a particular group of people over a selected list of works will reflect their cultural tastes. It is mainly based on race,class gender etc..., As a result, a lot of works were excluded from the canon especially writings by Women and Blacks. Due to social prioritization of literary works, many women writers wrote under the pseudonym of male writers.

At present, canon formation is much more democratic. It is not a static process. The systems and principles of canon change with time. For example, the work Waiting for Godot was first excluded from the canon and later it redefined the canon.

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