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  • Monday, December 11, 2017 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center
6th Floor of Van-Pelt Library

We will be welcoming Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan for a talk entitled: “The Materiality of Syllabi and the History of Literary Study.” Rachel and Laura write:

Our in-progress book, “The Teaching Archive: A New History of Literary Study,” assembles an original archive for the writing of disciplinary history: the multitude of documents generated by the university English literature classroom. These syllabi, course descriptions, lecture transcripts, discussion notes, and graded assignments point towards a past, present, and future for English literary studies significantly different than those our existing disciplinary histories suggest. In this talk, we will begin by quickly tracing the trajectory of the book from the early twentieth century to 1970 to describe how English classes offered at a wide array of institutions have long been hospitable to the historicist methods and broadened canons that we tend to associate with more recent decades. We will then discuss the particular challenges we have faced while working with teaching papers to reconstruct the classrooms in which they were used.


Laura Heffernan is Associate Professor of English at the University of North Florida and Rachel Sagner Buurma is Associate Professor of English Literature at Swarthmore College. Together, they are writing a new disciplinary history of English, titled “The Teaching Archive,” which will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2019. Their co-authored work has appeared in RepresentationsVictorian StudiesNew Literary History, and is forthcoming in PMLA.