The UVic Writer's Guide



Originally a biblical term denoting the scriptures included in the official Bible, the canon is a name given to an accepted body of works by an author, or more generally to those works which are considered in some way superior, central, or most worthy of study in a culture.

Thus the canon of Shakespeare's plays includes 37 plays generally considered to be certainly his, but there are a number (such as the anonymous Arden of Faversham) which are apocryphal.

The concept of a canon has come under review in recent years, as it has become clear that cultural preconceptions have a profound influence on what is considered to be of literary value; the result of such preconceptions has been, for example, to reduce the value attributed to works of literature written by women in earlier periods.

Literary Terms (By Category)
Literary Terms (Alphabetized)
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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995