Thinking Verse vol. 5: Call for Papers: Intonation

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Thinking Verse
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Thinking Verse vol. 5: Call for Papers: Intonation
Co-editors: Natalie Gerber and David Nowell Smith

What do we mean when we speak about the ‘intonation’ of a poem, and how do we grasp such intonation? Often enough, the term is employed intuitively as a means of describing our sense of how a poem speaks to us, how it sounds, its overall ‘tone’, but it also has a technical meaning in phonology, analysing particular contours and suprasegmentals. In this respect, ‘intonation’ lies at the crux between accounts of how phonological structure informs the formal strategies that make up a poem’s prosodic palette, and the broader politics and rhetorics through which poems engage their readers and reading publics. Intonation requires us to think the relation between sound and sense anew, as well as the relation between the oral/aural experience of poetry and its life on the page. Intonation also necessarily engages us with questions of agency, affect, and enactment/perlocution, from questions of ‘voice’ and ‘audience’ to the role/fabrication of discourse contexts, communities, and actions. Finally, to study intonation necessarily brings questions of verse practice into dialogue with other discourses and disciplines, such as musicology, cognitive science, linguistics, performance, communication theory.

To what extent can we develop a critical or conceptual vocabulary that will do justice to the diversity of uses of the term ‘intonation’? How can we negotiate between an understanding of intonation as part of the phonological structure of languages, and as a highly conscious, socially and rhetorically mediated set of practices? What advances might other disciplines—from evolutionary biology to anthropology—offer for a poetics attentive to intonation?

Topics might include (but are by no means limited to):

- Close analyses of individual poems’ and poets’ employment of intonation (as prosodic contour, as communicative gesture; in performance, in text...)
- The place of intonation between orality and literacy.
- The relation between intonation and tone, inflection, cadence, phrasing, voice.
- Prose intonation, verse intonation; intonation in speech and in art.
- Intonation as sonic artefact.

Contributions of 6000-9000 words should be sent to thinkingverse@gmail.com by 30 June, 2015.

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