Thinking Verse volume III: Scansion

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Call for Contributions, Thinking Verse vol. III, 'Scansion'.

What does it mean to 'scan' a poem—and what of a poem can be 'scanned'? What should we expect the scansion of a poem to tell us about how the poem sounds and coheres? That is, is scansion normative or descriptive, does it offer an ideal that our reading should strive for, or is it rather concerned with the contingency and plurality of a poem's possible reading performances? Similarly, whilst many models of scansion concern themselves with establishing a poem's metrics, there are other prosodic features—intonation, inflection, cadence—which are also crucial to its sound-world, and whose relation to the metre is complex and, for some, elides all attempts at systematisation. Can a broadened scansion do justice to such features, and if so, how? Much of the most powerful work currently being done in the field confronts these and similar questions, and the third volume of Thinking Verse will probe this issue in detail. We also realise that our approaches to scansion are necessarily conditioned by our own historical moment, both with relation to past poetries and contemporary poetic practice. Does scansion apply solely to metrical poetry, or can it be extended to comprehend free verse, concrete and soundtext poetry, or poetry that employs recording techniques or performance? And should a scansion of, say, a poem by Swinburne, aim to reconstruct and inhabit the ear for which this poem was written, so as to reawaken an attentiveness to prosodic effects which 150 years have served to blot out? Can scansion thus perform a wider historical role in transforming the sensorium?

Topics might include (but are by no means limited to):
- Exhaustive and minute 'scansions' of entire poems.
- Analyses of the philosophical models underpinning systems of scansion.
- Discussions and evaluations of different systems of scansion.
- Histories of scansion.
- Comparisons of systems of scansion between languages and poetries.
- The role of scansion in experimental poetic practice.
- Speculative scansions.
- Debunkings of scansion as a concept, reading practice, institution.

Essays of between 6,000 and 8,000 words should be sent to the editors at thinkingverse [at] gmail [dot] com. The editors will be very happy to respond to any informal queries before then. The deadline for essays is 31 August 2013. See for more details.