States of the Art. Considering Poetry Today.
October 26-28 2008
Department of North American Literature and Culture
Universität des Saarlandes Saarbrücken
CALL FOR PAPERS
The current state of poetry, we believe, is well worth (re-)considering.
In contemporary culture, poetry is both omnipresent and remote. While selected individual poets are able to boast widespread audience awareness and exceptional sales, poetry as a genre is frequently perceived as an elitist but also somehow anachronistic form of artistic expression. The poetic, aesthetic manipulation of language is prominent in popular culture in forms extending from advertisement to contemporary music, and yet poetry and easy familiarity with a range of poets and poems has receded from the cultural repertoire of most readers. Poetry seems to occupy a curiously ambivalent position in current society; poetry—we would suggest—seems to be at the cusp of an emergent stage of development.
The focus of the conference is on issues related to the status and state(s) of poetry as a contemporary art form. We wish to investigate current developments in poetics which are on the order of the paradigmatic changes from Victorian modes of writing to modernist forms. At that time, a shift in formal and aesthetic conventions was accompanied by changes in patterns of readership. This shift to a modernist aesthetic, although it secured advances for poetry as an intellectual form, suffered a loss in broad audience acceptance. Changes to the accepted codes of composition implied changes to the codes of reception in both the popular and scholarly realms.
Concentration will be on English language poetry, however, proposals treating related phenomena from other language traditions are welcome. There will also be readings by poets before, during, and after the conference at various prominent venues in the province.
FIELDS OF INQUIRY:
What is the position of poetry within the language arts?
What are the current audience(s) for poetry?
Is there a distinction between high and low culture / popular and academic poetry?
What makes poetry popular / academic? Is poetry a fixed entity in the repertoire of contemporary readers?
-- If yes, in what ways / If not, why not?
In what ways have subsidiary forms of communication (e.g. advertisements, popular music) adopted and adapted poetic
conventions of expression? What were the ramifications of a shift to a modernist aesthetic for the (popular and/or scholarly) reception of poetry? What poets / poems have been instrumental in illustrating the vicissitudes of poetry in contemporary culture?
Papers should not exceed 20-30 minutes. Abstracts are due 15 April 2008.
Selected papers of quality will be collected and published by a reputable publisher.
Dr. Klaus Martens
FR 4.3 Lehrstuhl fuer Nordamerikanische Literatur & Kultur
Chair, Centre for Canadian & Anglo-American Cultures (CCAC)
Universitaet des Saarlandes
Tel. +49-681-302-2770/2330/3323 (mornings)
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