HASTAC 2016 has ended
Thursday, May 12 • 10:30am - 10:45am
Networking the Canon: The Representation of Canonicity through Amazon and the Heath Anthology

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My short presentation explores the reception and re-configuration of the literary canon as it pertains to women and marginalized writers. I explore how online stores, like Amazon, organize literature through market-driven algorithms that partition women and minority writers from canonical works by male writers. Taking the Heath Anthology of American Literature as a point of departure, I will explore how its organizational logic built around selecting well known and lesser-known writers contrasts with Amazon’s market-based recommendation engine. How literary anthologies and online bookstores associate texts with others produces literary value. This presentation contrasts the logic of the link, built on technologies, philosophies, and ideologies of “inclusion” and “association,” with the organizational structure of the Heath. How does the Internet-era practice of linking impact the logic of cultural inclusion and exclusion? I focus on the central question: what is the impact of the differing organizational structures and content of literature in the Heath Anthology and Amazon? How does the logic of the marketplace of goods and values, so central to Amazon’s organization, influence how books are organized? While the importance of reading multicultural literature remains the same today as in the 1970s, when civil rights spurred conversations on the inclusion of writers of color in the canon, the significance of how algorithms impact the visibility and distribution of literature for many cultural consumers to comment on and critique reinvigorates debates on canonicity for the twenty-first century scholar. My research exposes how Amazon’s pernicious, market-based algorithms determine what future users buy, partition women from the literary canon, and establish what counts as humanistic discourse for the broader public.


Thursday May 12, 2016 10:30am - 10:45am
COOR 186 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 186

Attendees (16)