This conference will gather academics who have studied the history of the anthology, those who have edited and contributed to them, as well as those who use them in their teaching. It will be an opportunity to think through the problems and possibilities of the form, to think seriously about its origins and its future.
As pedagogical tools, anthologies embody contradictions: they have too little of too much. They are essential but superficial; they race through the “highlights” of the centuries, but they also offer an orientation to our field, its touchstones and its methods. They can be literally burdensome ("12 Tons of English Literature"), devices for challenging (or reinforcing) the accepted canon and the protocols of our field. We persist in using them, perhaps, because they are a means for introducing students to our discipline; they offer a gathering of significant writers and texts that might otherwise remain marginalized or forgotten. Historicized, they become monuments, or sometimes windows, to the shape of our profession and our pedagogies.
Topics might include the history of the literary anthology; its role in the university; other “collections” of writing—e.g., beauties, keepsakes, miscellanies; issues of genre or copyright; disciplinarity, pedagogies, or questions of canonicity. Panel proposals are welcome. Abstracts for twenty-minute papers on any aspect of the anthology, broadly conceived, should be no more than 200 words.
Thora Brylowe or Paul Lauter
Hartford, CT 06106
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