Beat writers, Language poets: 2014 MLA Special Session (deadline March 20)

full name / name of organization: 
Beat Studies Association

Call for Proposals for a special session for MLA 2014: Beat Artists, Literature, and Language Writing

Deadline for Submissions: March 20, 2013

Seeking proposals for essays of productive discussions of the multiple relations and interrelations, overlaps and departures, influences and legacies effected between these disparate literary movements of the postwar, postmodern rise. Consider questions of Beat writers, Language poets, and the virtues and limitations of assimilation into the academy; or questions of cooptation each movement faces in the 21st-century academy. Discussions may take inspiration from a past body of scholarly work on the Language movement that has sought to claim an authenticity for poets who are skeptical about such claims, and that has sought to place the rejection of closure that is so important to Language poetry within the broader map of postwar poetries (including the Beats) that increasingly embraced a poetics of indeterminacy and the politics of poetic form. How do Beat literature and writers fit the experimental demands of Language writing and writers?

Topics might investigate:

– Shared precursors between the Beat and Language movements (Stein, Zukofsky, Pound, et al.)

– The influence of individual Beat poems ("Wichita Vortex Sutra," among others) or techniques (the cutup, among others) on the Language movement

– Beat literature and individual writers of the Language movement (Ron Silliman, Leslie Scalapino, Barrett Watten, Michael Davidson, among others)

– Self and language: Beat writing and the dispersed subjectivity of Language poetry

– Language poetry's experiments with autobiography (texts such as Hejinian's "My Life," Howe's "My Emily Dickinson," and the collective autobiography "The Grand Piano," among others)

– Major presses and journals of the Language movement

– Spiritual poetics and the materiality of language

– The line in Beat poetry and Language poetry

– Experiments with syntax in Beat poetry and Language poetry

– Beats, Language poets, and the politics of poetic form

– Beat writing and Post-Language poetries

Proposals with brief professional biographies should be sent no later than March 20, 2013, to Ronna C. Johnson ( and Deborah Geis (