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CFP: Situating Lyric

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First biannual conference of the International Network for the Study of Lyric (www.lyricology.org)

To be held at Boston University June 7–11, 2017 (CFP extended deadline: February 17, 2017)

The general theory of lyric is a developing field of study. After a period of relative neglect, a breakthrough moment seems to have arrived with multiple new models and approaches proposed in the last several years. Some recent theoretical proposals emphasize basic features and constituents of lyric, others its functions, still others the shifting purposes of the label over time. There is increased interest in the relationship among lyric, poetry more generally, and other literary modalities and genres. At the same time, these new theoretical interventions are not consistently in conversation with each other, especially across national or linguistic lines. It is time to bring together scholars who are working towards a new understanding of the theoretical situation of lyric and poetry. Boston University with its rich traditions of literary study is an ideal place to ask this question with respect to the situation of “lyric” and “poetry” in literary history, in world literature, and in the arenas of language use.

This conference is co-organized by the International Network for the Study of Lyric (INSL), a nonprofit association of scholars interested in the theory of poetry. Its purpose is to promote and encourage the interdisciplinary study of poetry, lyric and verse in various languages, forms, media, and functions. In particular, it aims at an interdisciplinary and international exchange of approaches, conceptual frameworks, and theoretical advances relating to the study of poetry and the lyric. In this spirit we intend to bring together in Boston scholars from different fields to discuss the situating of “lyric.” The conference language will be English.

We invite paper proposals that address the question of “Situating Lyric” from a wide range of perspectives including the following:

Situating lyric is a geographical and temporal matter. What is the place of lyric in the world? How is it (and how has it been) variously situated in different cultural and national contexts and eras within Western literature? How are (changing or enduring) Western notions of lyric to be situated vis-à-vis various individual or interacting poetic traditions of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or indigenous cultures?
We welcome proposals that deepen or revise recent investigations into the situation of lyric in literary history. Is “the lyric” a continuous genre, a transhistorical mode, a post-hoc invention of recent vintage? Is it (has it been) important to identify a prototype of lyric that can be situated with respect to its outlying others – poetic forms or other speech genres that contrast with it? What roles have avant-garde or other anti-lyric movements played in situating lyric?
What is the disciplinary situation of lyric studies? It appears that discussions of lyric are strikingly, perhaps uniquely, fragmented along linguistic and national lines, with sophisticated and ambitious theories often taking little account of work beyond the writer’s own language. At the same time, lyric has received significant attention in some fields beyond literary studies, such as philosophy. What are the disciplinary sites in which lyric is or should be investigated, and how do these disciplines influence our view of lyric?
In lyric texts, the production and configuration of voice, addressee and perhaps a bystanding audience have often been felt to constitute a “situation” in themselves. What does a renewed look at the notion of the lyric’s communicative situation contribute to a broader theoretical understanding? Where should lyric be situated with respect to mimesis or fictionality on the one hand, “reality statement” or epideixis on the other? How should the formal features of poetry bear on this question? Has the longstanding intensive focus on the “speaker” of the poem led lyric theory to an impasse, and what is the best way forward?

Speakers already confirmed include (with more expected soon):

Charles Altieri (University of California, Berkeley)
Jonathan Culler (Cornell University)
Virginia Jackson (University of California, Irvine)
Eva Müller-Zettelmann (University of Vienna)
Jahan Ramazani (University of Virginia)

Please send an abstract of 300–500 words (including your affiliation) by February 17, 2017 to info@lyricology.org. Proposals for a group of 3-4 papers forming a panel also welcome.