[ACLA 2018] Migratory Forms and Their Affective Challenges

deadline for submissions: 
September 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Jackie Kim, Harvard University; Melih Levi, Stanford University
contact email: 

This seminar probes the significance of poetic forms as an affective vehicle in the context of their cross-cultural circulation and adaptation. How do migratory forms preserve, permute, and perform their affective potential as they cross linguistic and cultural borders? How does the question of forms and their transcultural adaptability reconfigure the principle of (un)translatability? How does cross-cultural transference complicate the affective potentiality of a form? What does a form lose and gain in such processes of global translation? What are, if at all existent, the responsibilities of a poet experimenting with borrowed forms?

The form, or the structure of a poem as it is vocally and/or visually externalized, functions as the locus of affective potentiality by augmenting, counterbalancing, or complicating the emotive strength of its content. Affects add a temporal dimension to the more structurally conceived relationship between poets and their chosen forms by steering us away from the notion of one form dominating an entire poem to multiple formal drives gliding in and out of a poem. Poetic forms inevitably mediate between the authorial and the readerly percepts, and often serve to put individual sensibility in conversation with creative conventions and cultural contexts. The cross-cultural mobility of poetic forms help challenge possible assumptions about culture and context by allowing more rigorous distinctions to be drawn between intention and intentionality, thereby psychologizing forms and developing new affinities between their latent or previously-appropriated potentialities.

Prospective participants are encouraged to consider the notion of form in its broader definition. One possibility is to examine the global circulation and reception of formalist poetry, including the sonnet, the ghazal, and the haiku. How does the affective space constructed by Adrienne Rich’s free-verse couplets compare to the prototype of the Persian ghazal, for instance? How do such global forms help create and activate cross-cultural affective networks? Another suggested domain for exploration is the form as a stylistic element of global literary trends—think Mayakovsky’s visual poetry, deliberate stutter of Dadaists, explosive formlessness and/or unexpressiveness of contemporary conceptualism. How do these “forms” carry transcultural affective resonance? What are some challenges inherent in transposing and modulating such texts into other linguacultural environments?

Interested individuals are invited to submit a paper proposal through ACLA portal during the submission period (Aug 31st - Sept 21st). Seminar organizers will review all submissions and propose a final schedule to the ACLA Committee by October 5th.

Feel free to drop us a line if have a paper in mind.