Word, Image, and Contemporary Lyric Voice(s) [NeMLA April 7-10, 2011]

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42nd Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
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Word, Image, and Contemporary Lyric Voice(s)

42nd Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-10, 2011
New Brunswick, NJ – Hyatt New Brunswick
Host Institution: Rutgers University

Ekphrastic poems that reference visual art as their subject matter have often used lyric voice as a way to negotiate the generic divide between word and image. A tradition of using the lyric speaker's voice to narrate or counter-narrate a reader's understanding of the image or to imaginatively envoice the art object (also known as prosopopoeia) extends from, for example, Keat's urn who speaks her famous lines about beauty and truth at the end of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" to Margaret Atwood's witty envoicing of Olympia as she stares back at the viewer/voyeur from her position on Manet's couch, saying "Get stuffed." However, in recent years, conceptual poet Cole Swensen has expressed a desire for ekphrasis to "get beyond the paradigm of 'emotions recollected in tranquility.'" Swensen's rejection of Wordsworth's famous definition of the lyric voice in his "Preface to Lyrical Ballads" is a call for contemporary poets to "get beyond" the speaking subject of the ekphrastic lyric. Similarly, Gary Shapiro has argued that "ekphrasis is most true to its vocation when renouncing the illusion of a single, authoritative voice." This panel is an opportunity to explore how this shift in the relationship between lyric voice and visual art object suggested by Swensen and Shapiro is reflected in contemporary ekphrasis. Successful papers will compliment their discussion of individual texts with attention to how the particular situation of ekphrasis itself invites or resists either the subversion of a solitary lyric voice or the construction of unitary speaking subject.

This panel will explore the constructions and/or disruptions of lyric voice(s) in contemporary ekphrasis. Topics might include: ekphrastic persona poems, the slippage or distance between speaker and poet identity, multivocal ekphrastic pieces, poet/artist collaborations or dialogue, serial lyric ekphrasis, spoken word or performance art that engages both verbal and visual, and hybrid texts or digital media that "speak" in lyric ways. Email a 1-2 page abstract and brief bio to Anne Keefe, Rutgers University (akeefe@eden.rutgers.edu).

Deadline: September 30, 2010