NeMLA 2024 roundtable: Shaping Poetry in the University Classroom
How do contemporary teaching practices shape “poetry” as a genre? In recent years, the new lyric studies has brought to light how Anglo-American university instruction instilled lyric reading as the dominant practice of the 20th century, and in pedagogical terms, the new lyric studies can defamiliarize the protocols of close reading and formalist analysis that promise a standardized poetry classroom. At the same time, critics such as Alan Golding, Natalia Cecire, and Kimberly Quiogue Andrews consider the academic institutional forces at play in the production and reception of difficult, experimental, and avant-garde poetries. This roundtable invites papers from university instructors that comment on teaching practices in the poetry classroom, especially in light of ongoing meta-discussion about the neoliberal university and the decline of the humanities. We ask you to consider:
- How does the professionalization of literary criticism in the U.S. affect the teaching of poetry in particular? See, for example, John Guillory’s Professing Criticism (2022), Nathan Heller’s “The End of the English Major” (2023), and Virginia Jackson and Yopie Prins’s introduction to “New Criticism” in The Lyric Theory Reader (2014).
- How can we integrate the insights yielded by the new lyric studies into our pedagogy — including the way that material, historical, institutional, cultural, and political forces have shaped our recognition of poems as such? Can classrooms be self-conscious spaces that mix reading methods and critical histories of poetry?
- How has the ascendancy of the creative writing program affected how we read poetry in the classroom?
We are particularly interested in papers that take comparative, anti-racist, or decolonial approaches and seek to resist aesthetic and political hegemonies in our shared conception of “poetry” as a genre.
Co-chairs: Marianna Hagler (University of Michigan), Maya Day (University of Michigan)