Authority and Uncertainty in Poetic Language and Practice

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NeMLA, 4/7-4/10/11--Deadline Sept. 30, 2010

Call for Papers

Authority and Uncertainty in Poetic Language and Practice

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

Authority and Uncertainty in Poetic Language and Practice
Abstracts due September 30, 2010

Marianne Moore regarded poetry's genius for the precise enactment of ambiguity, uncertainty and absurdity as a tilling of "Impossible gardens with real toads." That was by way of defense. With similar insouciance Auden, Stevens, and Williams came to characterize poetry as "the difficulty of what is to be" or "the finding of a satisfaction" or the knowledge of "nothing / pure and simple." We seek in this panel to address poetry's ingenious and sometimes disarming resources for creating and confronting authority. How does poetry mobilize resources to address the authority of its own traditions as well as the powers of the polis? How does a poetry that pledges to make do with "what will suffice" derive strength and coherence enough to be present to itself, its hearers and its non-hearers? The panel as conceived will be a platform for speaking openly about the increasingly more threatened status of poetic modes of knowing in the academy and in civic life, even though in recent years poetry has managed to flourish in certain precincts. We seek insight from poetic tradition about the nature of poetry's engagement with local culture and public authority and we invite theoretical approaches based on readings of particular poets or poems. We also ask what place the repertoires of poetic praxis, enactment and performance may have in the broader contexts of official or institutional discourses.

Please send 300-word abstracts to and

Deadline: September 30, 2010

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The 42nd Annual Convention will feature approximately 360 sessions, as well as pre-conference workshops, dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2011 Convention will be posted in June:

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. Do not accept a slot if you may cancel to present on another session.