Irreverence toward the Canon - C19 2020 roundtable CFP

deadline for submissions: 
August 16, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Sean Ash Gordon, University of Massachusetts Amherst
contact email: 

In a teaching evaluation for a survey course, a student complained of “irreverence toward the canon,” perhaps conflating “canon” with institutional authority and “proper” knowledge, and a lack of reverence with moral laxity or heresy. But we believe “irreverence toward the canon” should be a goal of our critical teaching and scholarship, not a flaw. How can we be more irreverent toward the canon?

In the spirit of next year’s C19 conference on Dissent, we invite proposals for a roundtable on how we perform irreverence toward the canon. How does your pedagogy or scholarship revolutionize, abolish, cancel, queer, or decolonize the canon? (Which canon?) How do you go about questioning what counts as “literary” or critique the very mechanics of canonicity? How do you dissent against traditional periodization to show less reverence and more relevance to our field? Some authors will continue to be canonical, but how have you reconsidered which of their works to research and teach? While acknowledging with David Kazanjian that “the canon will never end as long as the academy operates as an ideological state apparatus,” what “uncanonical” research methods allow for playful irreverence? What are the affective dimensions involved in dissenting from the canon?

Please send a 200-250 word proposal and brief author bio to Carie Lyn Schneider ( and Sean Ash Gordon ( by August 16th.

The 2020 C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists Conference will be held in Coral Gables, Florida from April 2-5, 2020.