MLA 2022- Canons, Critique, Archives (Roundtable)

deadline for submissions: 
March 19, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Manasvin Rajagopalan/ UC Davis
contact email: 


In the age of world literature, of translation zones, and displaced narratives, how do we imagine canons and our relationship to them? How do we query our practices of reading, our citational politics, our linguistic privileges and our points of access— theoretical, methodological and physical, to articulate the expandable and expendable possibilities of the Canon as a concept? How do our archives shape the way we read? How, one asks, do we create conventions and canons that do not become avenues for what Toni Morrison calls "empire building"? Even as canons determine our modes of critique, our syllabi and sites of scholarly practice, journal editorship and topics for discourse, how do we mobilize canonicity in capaciousness? 


Participants will explore the valences and semantic weights of such an unbridled and imaginative canonicity, working across different disciplinary approaches and spatio-temporal interests. While the roundtable will focus on the literary, we welcome insights from other humanistic disciplines, including art history, musicology, visual and cinematic studies, and ethnic and area studies. We ask the following questions in this regard:


  • What do canons do for scholarship? 

  • What are the boundaries of a canon? 

  • What are the possibilities in canonical exploration or expansion?

  • How do archives unsettle canonicity? 


The roundtable session will consist of six participants and a presider. The presider will lay out the terms of discussion and provide a short overview of the agenda for five minutes, followed by six minute formal comments from each participant. The remaining time of 35 minutes will be devoted to audience questions, as well as conversation between the roundtable speakers. 



Please send abstracts (200 words) and a short bio to the co-organizers by  Friday, March 19th 2021:

Manasvin Rajagopalan, UC Davis:

Neelofer Qadir, UNC Greensboro: 

The Modern Language Association convention will take place from January 6th-9th, 2022 in Washington D.C. All prospective presenters must be current MLA members no later than 1st April 2021