CFP -- Teaching off the Grid: The Promise and Perils of Using Non-Canonical Texts in the Classroom (Kalamazoo 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Gina Brandolino and Nate Smith

Canonicity is an increasingly embattled concept, and the lists of what texts are considered canonical for the medieval and early modern period are constantly growing. Despite this, every medievalist and early modernist can name at least three (and probably more) interesting or important texts that are considered non-canonical. This is not surprising. However open the canon seems, it is, by nature, exclusive and necessarily omits some texts. Many texts that have long been known to exist have, for one reason or another, simply not received the study that inclusion in the canon seems to require. Recently found texts, however significant they might be, face a similar obscurity and lack of attention.

Texts that, for one reason or another, are left out of what is currently considered the canon are often promising for use in the classroom. However, practical difficulties including departmental requirements, a lack of suitable editions, and the absence of pedagogical discussion about these texts often hampers their inclusion in our classes.

This session will attempt to remedy this dearth of discussion by exploring the pedagogical issues surrounding non-canonical texts of the medieval and early modern periods. Short (10-15 min.) papers will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of teaching non-canonical texts; approaches to teaching specific non-canonical texts; what unique insights non-canonical texts offer students; student reactions to non-canonical works; what we might lose by introducing non-canonical texts into our classrooms; and other topics with a pedagogical focus. The session will attempt to avoid papers which debate the canonicity of any particular text.

Please send proposals of no more than 300 words to Nate Smith ( and Gina Brandolino ( by Sept. 15.