Canon and the Analytical Study of Religion, SORAAAD 2015
Friday, November 20, 12:45-5:15 p.m. Atlanta, GA
“…in any given society, the social practices of reading and writing are systematically regulated. The social effects of this regulation are produced, therefore, by the concerted operation of social institutions, not only by acts of individual judgment.
Once this point is given its due, it should be possible to shear away the philosophical problem of aesthetic value from the historical problem of canon-formation is one aspect of a much larger history of the ways in which societies have organized and regulated practices of reading and writing…”
John Guillory “Canon” in Lentrichia and McLaughlin, Critical Terms for Literary Study, 239, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1990 (1995).
In canon, the canon would limit me. We students are the laboratory of canon, the experimental space of working on, working out, and augmenting what it is. In metaphor canon is a limitless language I use, whose origins are my origins. To paraphrase Baruch Spinoza, nothing is canonical in an absolute sense apart from the mind. A canon is an act of the mind. It is a metaphor. The aporia, the opportunity, is the question of the relationship of the two metaphors of laboratory and canon; the relationship, further, of the two canons of laboratory and metaphor. Course, canon, introduction: In what sense am I bound? And to what?
Nancy Levene, “Courses and Canons in the Study of Religion (With Continual Reference to Jonathan Z. Smith)” JAAR, December 2012. Emphasis ours.
In year five, SORAAAD will focus on the role of canon. Twenty-five years after Guillory, what does canon mean as a conceptual valence of research design? How is canon, its creation, imposition and contestation meaningful for those we study? We will look at the implied and overt canons we deploy in designing qualitative research, the canons deployed by the subjects of our research, and the politics of representation and classification. Topics will include canon and canon-making in the study of Early Christianity, Indigenous Religions, and Science Fiction.
Participants and panelists in this year’s workshop will explore questions crucial both to their areas of specialization and to religious studies as a discipline. How can we track the varied and dynamic ways that ‘canon’ morphs as an assertion of hegemony across space and time? How do we relate deep studies of relatively small populations to larger discourses without distorting particular expressions as definitively representative? Who gets to canonize? How do we track factional fixations within canon? To what end and with what pivots can we productively compare canons? How do we continue to integrate research that demonstrates how canonical concerns have warped our study of religions both in- and outside a “Western context,” e.g., by privileging some forms to the detriment of scholarly understandings of factionalisms, esotericisms, indigenous religions, fictional religions, and new religions? Beyond text and logocentrism, how can we talk about canons of emotion and art?
“Canon and the Analytical Study of Religion” will be of interest to scholars who already enact social science and critical humanities research methodologies; to those who want to develop techniques to denaturalize canon; and to anyone who wants to rethink how canons materialize, function, and are used to normalize specific power structures.
The SORAAAD workshop is sponsored by: the AAR’s Critical Theories and Discourses on Religion Group, the AAR’s Cultural History of the Study of Religion Group, the SBL’s Metacriticisms of Biblical Scholarship Group, and the Redescribing Early Christianity Group.
SORAAAD’s committee would like to thank Matt Sheedy and The Bulletin for the Study of Religion blog for their ongoing support of the workshop.
Registration Opens Monday May 11, 2015. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Place “registration” in the subject line, and include your name, indication of rank (independent scholar, graduate student, professor etc.) in the body of the email. We will announce speakers prior to the opening of registration.
Registration is free.
Registration Limit: 55
SORAAAD is on Social Media
As some of the suggested readings are posted on this network by the authors, we encourage all participants, panelists and those interested in the topic to use academia.edu and to list Study of Religion as an Analytical Discipline as a research interest.
This announcement is available as a PDF, all updates including the final program will posted to the same URL. We recommend downloading the PDF for smart phones and tablets.