Historical Poetics Now

deadline for submissions: 
March 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
HP C18



A Symposium at the University of Texas at Austin

November 7 to 10, 2019


Keynote Speakers:

Laura Mandell and Ivy Wilson


This symposium, now in its second iteration, after a 2017 meeting at Connecticut College, will examine the value of historical poetics for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literatures. We hope to gather scholars from across the world to discuss how and why we read the poetry of the past. The goal of the symposium will be to examine the various methods of reading poetry and poetics historically, especially in light of the expanding digital availability of archives of published and unpublished material and in the service of reimagining poetic history in and beyond frameworks of nationalism, imperialism, race and gender.

We welcome reflections on the state of historical poetics today. By “historical poetics,” we mean critical methods that ground interpretation of old poems in period practices of reading, theories of poetry and prosody, and material practices of circulation and publication, studied comparatively. In the words of the Historical Poetics Working Group, its methods “encourage skepticism about the normative concepts that have been used to study and teach poetry” by “historicizing the terms through which we recognize, describe, and evaluate poems.” The symposium will bring together eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scholars for shared methodological reflection and conversation.

We are delighted to have confirmed Laura Mandell (Texas A&M) and Ivy Wilson (Northwestern) as keynote speakers. Through our collaboration with the Texas A&M Center of Digital Humanities, participants will have the opportunity to visualize, data mine, and collaboratively annotate literary texts in real time at the conference.

Please send 250-word abstracts for papers to historicalpoeticsC18C19@gmail.com by March 31, 2019. As part of your proposal, please indicate your potential interest in participating in a methodological roundtable or facilitated discussion of a common text, whether in lieu of or in addition to your formal paper. Please direct any questions you have about the symposium to this address as well.

Decisions will be made by April 30, 2019. Graduate students whose proposals are not accepted as conference presentations may be invited to participate in the graduate caucus and their names will appear in the program.

About Our Keynote Speakers:

Laura Mandell, Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities at Texas A&M University, is the author most recently of Breaking the Book: Print Humanities in the Digital Age and numerous articles about eighteenth-century women writers. Her essay, "What is the Matter? What Literary History Neither Hears Nor Sees," appeared in New Literary History and describes how digital work can be used to research the writing and printing of eighteenth-century poetry. She is the Director of the Poetess Archive, an online scholarly edition and database of women poets, 1750–1900. Her current research includes new methods for visualizing poetry.

Ivy Wilson, Director of American Studies at Northwestern University, is the author of Whitman Noir: Black America and the Good Gray Poet (Iowa, 2014) and the editor of the works of nineteenth-century African-American poets James M. Whitfield and Allbery Allson Whitman. He is also the author of Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Nationalism (Oxford, 2011) and the editor, with Dana Luciano, of Unsettled States: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies (NYU 2014). His current research interests focus on the solubility of nationalism in relationship to theories of the diaspora, global economies of culture, and circuits of the super-national and sub-national.


Organizing committee:

Anna Foy, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Meredith Martin, Princeton University

Lisa Moore, University of Texas at Austin

James Mulholland, North Carolina State University

Brad Pasanek, University of Virginia

Courtney Weiss Smith, Wesleyan University

Dustin D. Stewart, Columbia University

Jeff Strabone, Connecticut College