Poetics & the University in Crisis

deadline for submissions: 
February 5, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Laura Hinton / Chant de la Sirene Journal (and CUNY)
contact email: 

Poetics and the Crisis of the University

5–6 March 2021, A Virtual Conference
Hosted by the online journal Chant de la Sirène


We are calling for papers for a virtual colloquy on the role of poetics in the American university in crisis, for a nation also in crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic this past year has put even more extraordinary pressures on colleges and universities to downsize and eliminate often all but required basic courses. The humanities and arts continue to be major targets of increasingly austere budgets—and so, too, has critical thinking while an unreasoning faction of the alt-right has turned violent in the nation, spurning democratic election results and attacking U.S. and state capitals. How can poetics—as inventive, intellectually engaged creative series of practices and modalities of thought—offer an intervention into this moment? How can the university reembrace the necessity of art based in critical thinking and open inquiry that includes the aesthetic and the political? We envision an offering of presentations for this colloquy that unite creative poetic practices with analytical critique and pedagogy from a wide range of voices, methods, and points of view. Here are our initial series of questions: 

  • What has been the history, purpose, and scope of poetics in the university since the last decades of the 20th century, as discourse and bed of theory as well as innovative writing practices extending beyond traditional disciplines—crossing boundaries between styles, genres, schools, media, cultures, nations, genders, and identities? 


  • What does or can poetics now accomplish in the current climate of the university, in which neoliberal economic and authoritarian disciplinary codes have been unleashed through mechanisms like defunding, undermining faculty status and tenure, and anti-intellectual agendas?


  • What precisely is the university under these conditions of neoliberal capitalism, involving polarizing politics, demographic change, state defunding for programs like the arts not directly related to current capitalist ideals of workers and production, and restricted speech for professors and students alike? 


  • How can poetics—both as writing practice and as theoretical engagement in the structures of language and narrative—comprehend this crisis of the university within our larger sociopolitical crisis and intervene in it, creating change?  


Participants may propose work to be presented in critical, scholarly, polemical, or creative modes (or a combination). Presentations will be streamed via Zoom technologies that may include webinar, Zoom rooms, and/or smaller breakout room discussion groups during the conference. Single-authored and collaborative papers or presentations are equally welcomed and encouraged.  


Please send queries and short proposed papers (500 words) or proposed creative work to: chantdelasirenesubmissions@gmail.com

The submission of hybrid discourse and multi-media work is encouraged, as are essay-style discursive analyses. This may include visual images/video/sound pieces/collaborative forums/ performance/traditional essays/group interviews. Work will be selected by the committee to appear in the Spring issue of Chant de la Sirène—Journal of Poetics & the Hybrid Arts.


More information about this symposium/conference is available at: 




CONFERENCE COMMITTEE (alphabetical order):

Carla Harryman, Eastern Michigan University

Laura Hinton, City College of New York (and editor of Chant de la Sirene Journal)

Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Penn State University

Lauri Scheyer, Hunan Normal University & California State L.A. 

Susan M. Schultz, University of Hawaii

Barrett Watten, Wayne State University

Tyrone Williams, Xavier University