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Were we right to fire the canon (if we ever did)? - 19/05/2016, York (England)

This symposium revisits issues of value and canonicity, from both a theoretical and a historical point of view. The late twentieth century saw the 'culture wars' as well as the dominance of high theory and the 'hermeneutics of suspicion' (the investigation of the occluded ideological work texts and artifacts supposedly perform). There were fierce arguments about the canon, often presented as a tool of oppression, though the canon also had distinguished defenders, including Harold Bloom (who dubbed practitioners of the 'hermeneutics of suspicion' the 'School of Resentment') and, more sympathetic to continental theory, Frank Kermode, who constantly returned to the issue. Those were exciting times, in which critics of the canon on the whole prevailed within the academy, but the arguments or assumptions have since become rather stale and routinized. Moreover, issues of value will not go away. Today, with the humanities and arts in many people's eyes under greater threat than ever before from instrumentalists and from those who believe that economic benefit should be the main driver for cultural activities, it may be particularly important for academics to demonstrate the excellence of their objects of study. And at the same timed league tables and other rankings have become obsessions in the wider culture ('the 100 best…'). We have asked contributors to this symposium to look afresh at the issues around the idea of the canon in today's world in the light of history. The issues involved affect all the humanities, but we will be concentrating on Classics, English literature, and the visual arts.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 19/05/2016

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: King's Manor, K111 (up the stairs from the Porter's Lodge), University of York (York, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Charles Martindale ; Tania Demetriou ; Liz Prettejohn

INFO: web - INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE: gratis / free / gratuita inscripción por email / inscription by email / iscrizione via e-mail:


12.30-13.00: Arrival, registration, and coffee

13.00-13.15: Introduction, Professor Charles Martindale (Chair)

13.15-14.10: First Panel:

Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn (York): 'A New Conoisseurship?' Professor Tim Barringer (Yale): 'Periphery to Centre?: Art and the British Empire'

14.10-14.25: Discussion

14.30-15.30: Second Panel: a round-table discussion about the canon, starting with 5-minute position statements from scholars at York: Dr James Boaden (History of Art) Dr Tania Demetriou (English) Dr Mark Jenner (History) Dr Emma Major (English) Dr Hanna Vorholt (History of Art)

15.30-16.00: Tea

16.00-17.20: Third Panel: four 15/20-minute papers on related issues: Professor David Hopkins (Bristol): 'The "Englit" Syllabus and "The Canon"' Professor Duncan Kennedy (Bristol): 'Value and the Canon: A Metaphysical View' Professor Matthew Reynolds (Oxford): 'Biting Words: Dante, Dryden, Bassani, Calvino' Dr Caroline Vout (Cambridge): ‘Always already? Making Art "Classical"'

17.20-17.45: Discussion

17.55-18.25: Keynote Lecture: Brian Cummings (York): 'Erasmus, the Canon, and the Humanities'

18.25-18.45: Discussion and final thoughts

18.45-19.30: Drinks Reception

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