The Anthological Impulse: Pedagogy and Social Justice

deadline for submissions: 
January 27, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
American Studies Association (ASA, November 8-11, 2018)
contact email: 

Anthologies are a profoundly pedagogical genre. However, while anthologies are often constructed specifically for classrooms, as scholars such as Kenneth Warren (1993) and Cynthia G. Franklin (1997) have argued, their making is typically removed from the site and sight of the classroom. While this suggests a unilateral and hierarchical pedagogy of knowledge transmission from expert to student, this panel explores what other, more empowering praxes emerge around what we are calling “the anthological impulse”: a desire to write and think with others and collect and share that work. More specifically, we engage a women of color feminist framework to consider the urgent and emergent pedagogies that crystallize around and through anthologies, broadly construed. In doing so, we draw inspiration from Cassius Adair and Lisa Nakamura’s recent argument that the woman of color feminist anthology This Bridge Called My Back (1981) can be understood as a “networked pedagogical object” that “invites readers to become vernacular educators, [thus] prefiguring the world of digital pedagogy by invoking the power of networked learning for minoritized reading communities” (256). We are especially interested in pedagogies that deliberately contest the upward redistribution of power and resources that has come to characterize the late twentieth century. We invite abstracts (roughly 300 words) from students, scholars, activists, editors, publishers, and practitioners who are thinking expansively about the anthological impulse in relation to social justice. Please send abstracts to Danica Savonick ( sends e-mail)) and Molly Appel ( sends e-mail)) by January 25.


Some questions to consider:

  • How do feminist, antiracist, queer, and decolonial anthological projects challenge canonical genealogies of literary anthologies? What pedagogical praxes emerge from these projects?
  • What are the political implications of publishing student work in anthologized formats, digital or analog?
  • How are anthologies formations of social struggle? How do they respond to emergency characterized not only as emergent violence, but as a sustained state of erasure?
  • Where and how might we identify other forms of anthologizing? What pedagogies emerge in recognizing those alternative forms?
  • What pedagogies emerge from the production of anthologies? How might the anthological impulse function in relation to Kitchen Table Press? The Combahee River Collective?
  • What are the literary, cultural, and pedagogical antecedents to anthologies such as The Black Woman (1970), This Bridge Called My Back (1981), But Some of Us Are Brave (1982), and Home Girls (1983)?
  • How are women of color feminist anthologies shaped in relation to broader material conditions, both within and beyond academe?
  • In what ways do anthological, pedagogical, and editorial projects prefigure contemporary trends in student-centered and project-based learning?