Teaching off the Grid: Non-Canonical Texts in the Classroom 9/15; Kalamazoo 2011 | cfp.english.upenn.edu
by Jessica C. Murphy
The “canon wars” of the 1980s and 90s may seem a distant memory, yet literary canonicity continues to be a vexed and embattled concept. While the list of texts considered canonical for the medieval and early modern periods is constantly growing, the canon by nature is exclusive and omits a large number of important, interesting, and very teachable non-canonical literary texts. Often, practical difficulties—including departmental requirements, a lack of suitable editions, and the absence of pedagogical discussion about these texts—hinder the inclusion of such promising texts in our classrooms.
This session seeks to overcome some of these difficulties by exploring specific pedagogical strategies for including non-canonical medieval and early modern literary texts in the classroom. Short (10-15 min.) papers will discuss approaches to teaching specific non-canonical texts, with particular attention to how these texts can be placed in dialogue with more canonical course readings. (The session will attempt to avoid papers that debate the canonicity of any particular text.) What unique insights do non-canonical texts offer students? What might we lose by introducing non-canonical texts into our classrooms? Papers focusing on early modern literary texts are particularly encouraged.