14 December 2006

Canon: A Parlor Game for the Liberally Educated

The object of Canon is to be the least well-read person in the group. (If this seems backwards to you, see the Pride Variation.) The first player names a literary work that they have not read which they think most of the other players will have read. This player scores one point for each person who has read the book. Reading a significant portion of the work counts. (The definition of "significant portion" is left to the group.) Play continues clockwise with each player naming one book until everyone is too ashamed of their ignorance to continue. The one with the most points wins?

Challenges: If a player names a book which you do not consider "canon," you may challenge their book. When a challenge occurs, the player who named the book must justify why they believe the book to be canon. The challenger can then rebut the speech, stating why the book is not a classic. The remaining players vote on whether the book is a classic or not. If the book is declared canon, the challenger loses a turn. If the book is declared not canonical, the player who named the book loses their turn.

Special Situations:

  • If everyone else in the room has read the book, the player receives double points on account of being shamelessly ignorant.
  • If no one else has read the book either, all other players receive a point.
  • If the classic named is originally written in a language other than English, a player scores an extra point for every player who has read the book in the original language, two points if the book was originally in Latin or ancient Greek.
  • If the player who names the book was supposed to have read it for a class and didn't, they receive an extra point for being a slacker. An additional point is awarded if they wrote an essay on it anyway.
  • If a player cannot think of a book, they may elicit suggestions from the other players, but may not pass.
Pride Variation: Invert the rules of the game to prove yourself the most educated person in the room. Score points for classics you have read that others have not. If you have read the book in the original language, get a bonus point. This version is not quite as enlightening, but still pretty fun.

This game has undergone extensive testing at the BYU Writing Center and proven to be a great deal of fun. It probably works best with a bunch of brilliant but insecure humanities students. Canon is a very cathartic game--there's much solace to be had in finding that the people you look up to are at least as ignorant as you are.


Courtney said...

um, can you please play this while I am working?

Liz Muir said...

I vote we play it at the party tomorrow, but I don't know who votes with me.

Then again, we could just play "Death Match" like we did today . . . .

Katherine said...

Dude, you TOTALLY stole this from me. But I like the modifications. We will DEFINITELY play this a party someday.

The Girl in the Other Room said...

I have never heard of this but it sounds like fun, especially as I have read such random things as EndGame (which I consider a classic, btw) but not all the works of Shakespeare. Indeed, I don't know if I know anyone who HAS read all of Shakespeare. I think you would get a bonus point if you have read all literary work by any author mentioned, be it JKR, Tolkien, SHakespeare, Jane Austen, Bronte, C.S. LEwis, etc.