My monograph-in-progress, Writing with the Canon: Reflections on Intellectuals, Power and the Making of Knowledge, examines the ways the canon and its values are sedimented in daily academic life and value judgements, conceptions of the self as an intellectual, or expert, and institutional inequalities of racism, sexism, and classism.
Rather than positioning the canon as stable, fixed, or knowable Writing with the Canon suggests an interpretation of the canon-as-object wherein it is lively, animated, and vital.
Beginning by acknowledging perspectives of the canon as ‘male, pale, and stale’, the book looks to move away from these conventional analyses to provide richly detailed ethnographic testimony on the affect, influence, and power the canon in the everyday writing lives of contemporary intellectuals.
In this work-in-progress seminar I hope to do two things: i) to share the ethnography underpinning the book and discuss these ideas of ‘sticky’ or ‘lively’ canons in our new context of post/pandemic intellectual life; ii) to dig deeper into the more subtle appearances of issues of gender and sexuality in the canon – movements and machinations that go beyond the notion that the canon is simply a collection of dead white men.
Here I hope to examine the more complicated and often-fleeting ways that the canon is gendered, queered, or intersects unexpectedly with power and privilege connected to gender and sexuality.
About the speaker:
Dr Sarah Burton is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London.
Her research areas include political sociology, neoliberalism, ideas of materiality, the everyday and the mundane, and representations of the intellectual with particular relation to cosmopolitanism and multilingualism. Sarah completed her Ph.D. at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has studied English Literature and Sociology at the universities of Newcastle, Cambridge, and Glasgow.
She has published widely on sociology and the politics of knowledge, including a contribution to the 50th anniversary special issue of Sociology, ‘Becoming Sociological: Disciplinarity and a Sense of Home’.
Sarah is currently completing her book manuscript for Manchester University Press as well as a special issue of the British Journal of Sociology of Education titled ‘The Academic Precariat: Understanding Life and Labour in the Neoliberal Academy’.