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The Association for Core Texts and Courses (ACTC)
Twenty-Seventh Annual Conference

Sponsored by

University of Notre Dame

Thursday, April 21 - Sunday, April 24, 2022

University of Notre Dame

Plenary Speakers Thursday through Saturday:  

   Roosevelt Montás, Columbia University

   Joshua Parens, University of Dallas

   Anika Prather, Howard University

   Yang Xiao, Kenyon College

Special Plenary Panel

   Core Education at Community Colleges, organized by Theodore Hadzi-Antich, Austin Community College

Questions? Contact:

Tess Makanas
Administrative Assistant
ACTC Liberal Arts Institute at the University of Dallas
+1 972 265 5794
Office Hours: 12:00PM - 5:00PM CST


Power and The Canon

The idea of canonicity has always been fraught. Any decision, however inspired, about what books “count” in one way or another begs for dissent, creates apocryphal gray areas, and often admits of exception. History is full of proofs of this dynamic, whether we reach back to Josephus or consider contemporary debates about the inclusion of marginalized voices in required college reading lists. 

At ACTC, we are in constant conversation about the books we teach and why we choose to teach them, but we rarely (never?) argue about the inclusion or exclusion of any book in particular based on any principle on which we claim to have reached consensus. We know that some versions of these debates occur in some of the programs that find their broader intellectual community at ACTC conferences and programs, but sorting such principles out has never been our work. We at ACTC are not list-makers. We are not gate keepers.

So, when we take up “Power and the Canon” as the theme of our conference, one should perhaps read an implied question mark at the end of that phrase and imagine scare quotes around each of the words that make it up.

What does it mean to have a canon in one’s core program or course? How does it change the educational experience for one’s students? What does it mean not to have one?  For those of us who are committed to open-ended and ever-changing reading lists in our core courses, what is gained and lost? For those of us committed to teaching not just the same texts every year, but also texts that exist together in historical relationship as a tradition, how do these traditions play into our teaching? How do they alter the educational project of reading and teaching the texts within it? 

Keeping all of these questions about canonicity open, but bracketing them for a moment, how do we understand the power dynamics that are internal and external to our core courses? How do our choices of texts (individual, collective, or historical) express different modes of power or illuminate different power dynamics to our students. And what constitutes the power of the core (whether or not it is canonical)? What power do cores have to bind communities on our campuses or to invite our students into age old conversations?

It is notoriously difficult to articulate the value of a liberal arts education to someone who does not have one. And, among those who are liberally educated, its value seems so obvious that it is often left unarticulated. But, at this year’s ACTC conference, our challenge is to articulate these things to each other, and to try to do so in a way that we might be able to articulate to others. This is a formidable challenge, but one that I believe we are equal to.

ACTC invites proposals for papers and panels that explore our theme, Power and the Canon (but also welcomes proposals unrelated to our theme). Papers must engage a primary text in a substantial way and can be no more than five pages long. Panels should be made up of three to five papers presented by faculty members from at least two different institutions.


Registration and Proposals are submitted online below.

A PROPOSED PAPER must include the name, institutional affiliation, mailing and email addresses, and phone contact number of the person making the paper proposal. All proposals should include paper title, the core text discussed in the paper, and a one-paragraph abstract.

PANEL PROPOSALS should organize a panel of specific presenters with a title for the panel.  The person organizing the panel should include all personal information below and the paper proposal information for her/himself if s/he is presenting a paper in the panel. The names, institutions, phone numbers and email addresses of other panelists should be listed as part of the panel proposal.   Listing the names does NOT constitute a registration but it ensures proper placement of individuals on panels.  Each person on a panel must register for the conference through the Online Registration Form. No more than two-panel members from the same institution may be present on one panel, but panel proposals with only two presenters are welcome. ACTC will form panels out of individual submissions or complete panel submissions.

THE PROPOSAL DEADLINE IS February 5, 2022.  All potential conferees are welcome to contact the Executive Director of ACTC, Charlotte Thomas, with questions about panels and proposals:

ACTC papers are short (seminar-essay style, 5 pages, double-spaced), treat one core text for at least ¾-1 page, and develop the conference theme. The usual presentation time allotted to each paper is 12-15 minutes. Lively liberal arts discussions are a mark of ACTC conference panels. Thus, papers tend to range over theoretical considerations, particular interpretations, classroom or programmatic practices, and institutional missions—often involving all of these. Panel proposals should bear these characteristics in mind. Scholarly papers (up to 10 pages) may be submitted for publication in our selected proceedings after the conference, but only 5-page papers may be read at the conference. 

More than 200 openings will be available for paper presentations. While the submission of a complete paper is not required for acceptance on a panel, every attendee whose paper proposal has been accepted is expected to come to the conference with the completed paper.

Submission of your paper or panel proposal, or simply your intention to attend the conference, may be done through the ACTC website below.

VOLUNTEERS FOR PANEL CHAIRS will be happily accepted. If you wish to volunteer, see the Online Registration Form. Only organizers of panels may serve as chairs and presenters at the same time; all other chairs may not present on the same panel.


All conference activities will be held on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

ACTC has reserved a block of rooms at the Inn at St. Mary’s, which is located within walking distance of our on-campus conference venues. Reservations must be made by March 15th in order to take advantage of our group rate.

Inn at Saint Mary’s

53993 Indiana State Route 933

South Bend, Indiana 46637


Hotel Website:

Questions or Need Assistance?

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