EC/ASECS 2016 CFP / Historical Poetics: Strangely Familiar?

deadline for submissions: 
May 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Michael Edson / University of Wyoming
contact email: 

CFP for EC/ASECS 2016 (Fredericksburg, VA, 27–29 October 2016)

Historical Poetics: Strangely Familiar?

Recent scholars such as Yopie Prins and Virginia Jackson have identified and contested “lyricization”—the tendency to view all poetry as lyric poetry, as the solitary effusions of an expressive speaker—in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Anglo-American criticism that continues to inform much current scholarship. Prins and Jackson are nineteenth-century specialists, and they have positioned their work under the rubric of “historical poetics,” an approach questioning the relevancy of some of the most familiar and supposedly universal genres, modes (lyric), and meters (foot-scansion) by which scholars traditionally analyze poetry.

True to the conference theme, this panel seeks four 15-minute papers exploring the possibilities and stakes of extending this estrangement or defamiliarization of poetic categories to the long eighteenth century. In one sense, the observation that poetry was “lyricized” by post-Romantic practitioners and critics is old news to those of us working in the eighteenth century. We have long known, for instance, that the poetry produced in our period included not only lyrics, but also satires, epigrams, verse epistles, pastorals, epics, mock-epics, and versified dramas. If lyricization is viewed as a specifically nineteenth-century version of a broader tendency to approach and to represent one mode or genre as a synecdoche for all poetry, eighteenth-century specialists have been less likely than most literary scholars to take this synecdoche for granted. But the possibility also remains that we could do still more to defamiliarize the critical pre-conceptions that we import into the period. To what modes and genres—epigram, verse epistle, pastoral, satire, etc.—do long-eighteenth-century poets or critics reduce poetry as a whole? What are the consequences of reading, representing, or relating to poetry in terms of a single meter or mode in the era from Milton to Cowper? In what specific ways was the concept of lyric configured or debated within the eighteenth century, and how do these configurations reflect unique circumstances of production and consumption of poetry in our period? The panel welcomes meditations shaped by any number of subfields, including book history, reception studies, intellectual history, and cultural history; and we welcome focused responses to recent publications by Prins, Jackson, Meredith Martin, Simon Jarvis, and Stephen Burt. Please send 250-word abstracts to Michael Edson, University of Wyoming, medson@uwyo.edu, by 30 May 2016.