The Lyric Self and Courtly Traditions

deadline for submissions: 
September 25, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association ACLA
contact email: 

A new preference for the production and consumption of lyric forms of poetry, over that of more narrative options like the epic, often coincided with a governing body’s establishment of courtly norms and practices. This trend is consistent across a multitude of seemingly disparate cultures. The popularity and refinement of the ghazal during the Ghaznavid dynasty and the sonnet at the Elizabethan court are just two examples of similar formal developments arising within different cultural contexts. Shorter lyrics were often formally rigorous, but also highly customizable, and many of these forms also called for a new emphasis on the construction and expression of self. While the efficacy of genre distinction and the search for some ultimate definition of the lyric continue to occupy the field of Lyric Theory, a working understanding of the lyric as the genre of subjective experience has sufficed thus far. In lieu of seeking easy parallels between the various bodies of lyrical output, we would do well to remember that this definition of the lyric and the production of the self its indicative of is a largely western notion. Rather than impose a western conception of the human being on a number of similar poetic practices, this panel seeks to return to the poems themselves as a means to investigate the particularity of self-definition within the context of specific court systems. The panel themes include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • lyric identity
  • Ghazal tradition
  • comparative poetic forms
  • lyric theory 
  • Courtly poetic tradition
  • lyric forms of poetry 
  • poetry and human subject

Please submit 250-word long paper proposal and 100 words long bio by 25 September, 2019 at Should you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out on the same email address.