CFP: [Poetry] Poetry and Philosophy: Rethinking the Divide (4/21/08, MMLA 11/13/08-11/16/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Jett McAlister
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Recent discussions on poetry and philosophy have tended to focus on how these two modes of
writing might “think” differently—while philosophy depends on logic, reason, or argumentation,
poetry has recourse to non-rational or trans-rational methods, affect, and musicality. But
discussions of poetry “thinking” are often reduced to the paraphrase of an argument supposedly
contained in the poem, an argument that seems to follow the rules of philosophy, traditionally
conceived. But rather than distinguishing between them, might we not consider what philosophy
can contribute to the reading of poetry, and poetry to the practice of philosophy? Rather than
trying to discover an idea embodied in a poem, we seek to understand how philosophical claims
might impact reading practice, and lessons learned through poetry might be brought to bear on
philosophical assumptions and methods.

We welcome papers examining this issue from either direction, and from both theoretical and
practical perspectives, as well as papers from any periods or nationalities. We are especially
interested in papers taking polemical positions concerning the relationship of these two modes
of thought, and how they might have impacted one another.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

--Aesthetic categories: how poets have reconceived or refigured traditional aesthetic categories,
or how philosophers have dealt with categories possibly generated through poetry
--The critical importance of a poetry/philosophy interaction: does it matter? Has the
poetry/philosophy discussion impacted other critical approaches (historicism, cultural studies)?
--How do we philosophically engage with poems not apparently about philosophy? Or,
philosophy not apparently about poetry or poetics?
--Poetry beyond metaphysics: how can poetry engage aesthetics, ethics, or kinds of philosophy
not at home in philosophy departments?
--How does the poetry/philosophy connection allow us to think poetry’s connection to a non-
textual reality?
--Evaluative judgments of poetry: is philosophy-driven poetry somehow more valuable or
interesting? What does it mean for a poem to be interesting? Can rethinking the
poetry/philosophy connection reconfigure our notions of “concept poetry” and “artifact poetry”?

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Received on Thu Apr 03 2008 - 12:58:41 EST

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