The Canon and Cultural Studies in the Composition Classroom - NeMLA, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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45th Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) April 3-6, 2014 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Host: Susquehanna University

Since the "culture wars" of the 1980s and 90s, the significance of canonical authors towards a general education has been argued by both the left and right. As the debris from those arguments has settled it's clear that the canon has remained central to humanistic education, but in what way? While conservatives may have feared the dissolution of the traditional canon and liberals pushed the need for greater inclusiveness, it's obvious that détente in the culture wars has resulted in perhaps a different educational status quo entirely.
This roundtable will present a series of perspectives that address the pedagogical use of the canon in first-year composition or introductory English classes. In the selection process, our aim is to engage a diversity of opinions: perhaps arguments for teaching of the traditional canon (à la "Great Books" curricula), or models of pedagogies that meld canonical texts with critical discussions on race, class, and gender, or positions that argue for reform or abolition of the canon in some way. By fostering a discussion of the canon as it appears in our most populous classes, we are asking a question about the public face of our disciplines: how do English, composition, and literary study appear to students, administrators, parents, and how does our engagement with (or away from) the canon impact that?
The goal of this session is to open a space for a multiform discussion of the canon as it relates to introductory classrooms. We will welcome both practical and theoretical arguments about the canon and pedagogy, with an emphasis on participants' actual classroom experiences. The inclusion of this session at NeMLA 2014 will critically engage our discipline's most public classroom spaces by putting them into conversation with perhaps our most contested—and most enduring—scholarly construct, canonicity.
Some questions you might consider answering in your abstract: What role does the canon have in first-year composition and introductory English classes? What role has it had in your classes recently and in the past? Do "Great Books" authors belong in the composition classroom? To what end? And, similarly, how do critical pedaogies that alter the canon contribute to or detract from the composition classroom? This roundtable session asks panelists in 10-12 minutes to discuss their classroom experiences with the canon in order to ask: what are the parameters of the canon today, and what is its position in our discipline's most commonly-required courses?
Send 300-word abstracts to Ed Simon ( and Wade Linebaugh ( by September 30th, 2013. Additional information and NeMLA CFP available at

Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
A/V requirements, if any ($10 handling fee required at registration)

The 2014 NeMLA convention continues the Association's tradition of sharing innovative scholarship in an engaging and generative location. This capitol city set on the Susquehanna River is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, historical sites, the National Civil War museum, and nearby Amish Country, antique shops and Hershey Park. NeMLA has arranged low hotel rates of $104-$124. The 2014 event will include guest speakers, literary readings, professional events, and workshops.