First conference, Boston University, June 7-11, 2017

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, and/or its relation to “poetry”?
  • How is lyric (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 poetry 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?

Discussions of lyric are strikingly (uniquely?) fragmented along linguistic and national lines.

Sophisticated and ambitious theories often take 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 is the disciplinary situation of lyric studies today?
  • What are the disciplinary sites in which lyric is, or should be, investigated, and how do or could these disciplines shape our view of lyric?
  • To what extent does, or should, the language in which the theorist writes constrain the theory?
  • Is a world-literature approach to poetry studies possible? Desirable? If so, what could it look like, and what are the desiderata that might get us there? If not, what should we have instead, and why?
In lyric poems, 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 poems 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 these questions?
  • Has the longstanding focus on the “speaker” of the poem (or “the lyric I”) led to a theoretical impasse, and in either case, what is the best way forward?
  • What are the historical and geographical vagaries of conceiving of lyric poetry as song, speech, prayer, letter, inscription, artefact? What do such analogies individually illuminate, and obscure, for an attempt to theorize lyric today?
  • Are there good arguments for not characterizing lyric poetry in terms of communication (or non-communication), however nuanced we make those terms?

Please send an abstract of 300–500 words (including your affiliation) by February 17, 2017 to Proposals for a group of 3-4 papers forming a panel also welcome. In general papers should be 15-18 minutes in length; in a panel with 4 participants, 15 minutes per paper is the strict maximum.