Race and Versification in Anglophone Poetry

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Panel: Race and Versification in Anglophone Poetry

NeMLA Annual Convention: March 21-24, 2019, Washington D.C.

Studies of versification tend to be silent on race, and with some exceptions (such as Anthony Reed’s 2014 Freedom Time), studies of race and poetic form tend to turn away from the mechanics of versification. As Dorothy Wang argues in Thinking its Presence: Race and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry (2014), most accounts of poetic form revolve around the technical accomplishments of white poets, while minority figures are seen as more valuable for their poetry’s social or thematic content. What would happen if nonwhite poets were read for their proficiency with poetic forms, and were made the center of conversations about poetic technique? 

This panel invites a reexamination of the relationship between race/ethnicity and verse form, to make wider openings in formal conversations that have been dominated by criticism of white poets, asking: How has the abstraction of prosodic studies played into arguments about race and poetic form? Can we develop a racially sensitive criticism of versification? How is race conceptualized within minority and postcolonial adaptations of canonical forms? We invite papers on the intersection of formalist poetics and studies of race and ethnicity in Anglophone literature of any historical period. Essays may consider the versification and criticism of minority poets, technique and race in questions of canonicity, or racially coded language in prosodic treatises or theoretical accounts of poetics.

Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words. Please create a free account through the NEMLA online portal (https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/login) in order to submit your abstract by September 30.