The making of canons and beyond
|The American Comparative Literature Association’s 2022 Annual Meeting will take place at|
National Taiwan Normal University 15-18 June 2022.
Organizer: Gaultier Roux, Fudan University (Shanghai)
Rationale of the seminar:
The notion of anthology is little, or even not studied, by literary theory. Largely ignored by
researchers in both a theoretical and a comparative perspectives, anthologies are mostly taken in
account by science education researchers only, and only in a narrow didactic perspective.
Nonetheless, the notion appears as one of the most stable in the West: from ανθολογία in
Greek, most languages created a neologism that mirrors the original notion and facilitate
comparison. A wide questioning of the place and role of anthologies in the constitution of literary
corpuses or on the impact they have on the constitution of societies through a shared culture,
cannot be limited to the Western area. For example, unlike Western poetry, poetry written in
Chinese and Japanese has developed within the notion of anthology: their role has been central in
the birth of literature.
Taking an historical look on anthologies, we observe that most Roman codices, and then
most medieval manuscripts are, strictly speaking, anthologies, as in a single volume they enclose
various texts, sometimes very different by length or genre. Actually, the Bible itself can be
considered as an anthology: even if the Scriptures are formed of complete texts, these texts were
initially part of a broader and abundant corpus that has been considered apocryphal only a posteriori.
Differently, but as interestingly, the Koran might be considered as an anthology, as it has been
designed to collect the words of a single man though only speaking as a prophet, and not as a
mortal man. Certainly, none of these examples are collections, as we restrict the term to refer to pieces
collected and arranged by their author, despite the existence of self-made anthologies.
Even though some can consider that anthologies are a mere paraliterature based on the
collage, by an editor, of other people’s works, anthologies are to be found in any written tradition
and are probably one of the most ancient forms of literary criticism: either texts have been deemed
acceptable or representative, and then have entered an anthology; or they failed to do so, their
absence meaning their demise. In parallel, anthologies must been seen as one of the starting points
of philology. More widely, reaching beyond the literary-scriptural field, anthologies have exercised
an instrumental influence on taste, self-identification, community belonging, creation and
transmission of representations and values (religious, political or profane), and even language itself.
This seminar will thus foster an interdisciplinary and transcultural reflection on anthologies:
who make them? what are their uses or purposes? what are their status in various contexts in time
and space? what is their relationship to the constitution of canons, of language or literary norms?
what are their structures? what is the extent of the editors’ action on texts? what are the place and
functions of the paratext?
Keywords: anthologies, canon (…& canonicity), book history, aesthetics (…& politics), philology,
tradition, literary criticism, genre, didactics, cross-cultural (…circulation of texts).
Deadline for submission: 31 October 2021
Reference URL: https://www.acla.org/anthologies-making-canons-and-beyond
For further information on the symposium: https://www.acla.org/annual-meeting-2022
For questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ideally, the seminar panel would be constituted of 8-12 people from various fields of the
humanities, and working on different cultures and literatures, as well as eras.
- Language of communication will be English preferably.
- Presentations will last 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the number of participants, followed
by a developed roundtable discussion.
- Please send proposals (a title, a 500-word summary & a short bio-bibliography) using the
- Seminar will be held provided there are enough participants and the project is validated by
the organizing committee after review of the seminar programme.