1. Why has the literary canon consisted mainly of male writers (and here we should qualify, "of white, middle-class and upper middle-class male writers")?

2. What have been the standards by which the works of women (along with non-white males and the economically-disenfranchised) have been judged? Who created these standards and how are they biassed in favor of men?

3. Can women, or minorities, or working-class writers be comfortably added to the canon? Does the conception of a literary canon change as such writers are introduced?

4. Does the existence of a literary canon serve any useful purpose? Does it serve the interests of women or other marginalized groups of people (minorities and homosexuals, for example?)?

5. To what extent does the notion of a literary canon create marginalization?

6. Is it inevitable that there be a literary canon, or does the attempt to canonize some writers and exclude others serve an often unacknowledged political purpose?

As attempts to address the problem of the canon, a number of approaches have been suggested and enacted by feminists.

The Literary Canon


Gender Matters The Literary Canon: an Overview

Last modified 1989