postmedieval -- oct 15, 2013 -- contemporary poetics and the medieval muse

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CFP for Upcoming Issue of postmedieval—
Contemporary Poetics and the Medieval Muse

In a recent article, Chris Jones provides a survey of what he calls "an important new development in modern poetry," namely the increasingly large and diverse "range of modern writers who drew on Old English sources in their work," performing a return to and recovery of early medieval forms and plots. The foremost characteristic of this "New Old English" was the "sustained deployment of Old English tropes and techniques" and "the rhythmical possibilities for composition" offered by early medieval poetry.

One of the aims of this issue is to build on Jones' work, and extend the conversation to more overtly experimental and postmodern poets who work with the medieval in a variety of ways. What kind of work is being done now beyond English (Old, Middle, etc.)? How does this work push beyond the tendency of translators to, on the one hand, preserve an archaic medieval "feel," while on the other, smooth the material out for contemporary readers? Furthermore—and this is the second and more important set of questions that we wish to explore in this issue—what would a poetics look like that, instead of limiting itself to reaching into the medieval for content and form, explored medieval modes of authorship, subject position, voice, gender, genre, etc.? How could a poetics critically engage with the medieval through creativity itself, rendering both breaks and continuities between contemporary and medieval poetry in terms of language, lines, and utterance, rather than relying on traditional academic discourse?

Some of the projects we've been excited about in discussing this issue include Thomas Meyer's Beowulf (Punctum, 2012); Caroline Bergvall's Meddle English (Nightboat, 2010); Julian T. Brolaski's gowanus atropolis (Ugly Duckling, 2011); and Pattie McCarthy's bk of (h)rs (Apogee, 2002). All of these texts partake of medieval sources and/or modes of authorship in order to explore poetry as, respectively, a visual medium, gendered language, language slippage and loss, linguistic/sexual hierarchies, and so on. In other words, they do not attempt to update the medieval—they trouble contemporary poetics and language through the medieval, and vice-versa. What they produce is new, but, it seems to us, newness is not the point so much as disrupting received language systems in order to see what happens, what understanding of language and poetry can be discovered.

This issue of postmedieval will explore such poets and poetry with these questions, and modes of engagement, firmly in mind. We anticipate a collection that examines not only the ways that medieval literature informs and influences the work of such poets as those mentioned above, but how such work can provide an intriguing lens for considering medieval literature itself, and how certain medieval modes of writing and authorship anticipate strains of the contemporary avant-garde. If you are unsure if your essay is appropriate for this issue, please provide an abstract as soon as possible, and the editors will respond. In general, essays will be no longer than 2,500-3,000 words, and the deadline for initial drafts is October 15, 2013. The issue will be published in 2015.

David Hadbawnik and Sean Reynolds, SUNY-Buffalo,