Historical Poetics in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
A Symposium at Connecticut College
November 3-4, 2017
Virginia Jackson (University of California, Irvine)
Suvir Kaul (University of Pennsylvania)
The wager of this symposium is simple: historical poetics needs the 18th century, and 18th-century studies needs historical poetics. For over a decade, a group of 19th-century scholars has been practicing historical poetics, building arguments around the core insight that ideas about what poetry is and what it means to make and read it change over time—that these are ineluctably historical ideas. A group of 18th-century and Romantic specialists is now asking whether and how this approach applies to pre-1800 poetry. Eighteenth-century verse was produced before lyricization, before poetry as such was equated with the lyric, and its students have long recognized that limited modern ideas about poetry cannot do justice to this period's proliferation of forgotten poets and genres, tropes and terms. Yet old historicisms die hard, and form-minded scholarship in eighteenth-century studies has been uneven in exploring verse that departs from the supposedly universal norms of post-Romantic lyric.
This symposium aims to bring together 18th- and 19th-century scholars for shared methodological reflection and conversation.
How might attention to 18th-century verse enrich or complicate recent arguments that decenter the 19th-century lyric? What might traditions of historicist reading in 18th-century studies bring to historical poetics? How might the latter reshape the former? What does it mean to do historical poetics both before and after lyricization? Symposium participants will explore such questions in a combination of traditional panels, larger roundtable discussions, and interactive seminars about shared readings.
The organizers invite proposals for presentations engaging with historical poetics across the 18th and 19th centuries.
Some papers might pursue inquiries into particular poems, techniques, trends; others might consider historical poetics itself, contextualizing the phenomenon, raising methodological problems, or imagining new critical histories. The organizers welcome proposals for either traditional 20-minute papers (meant for panels) or shorter methodological position papers (for roundtables). They also welcome expressions of interest from scholars who would like to participate in seminar discussions. All proposals should include a title, a brief (200-word) description of your argument and approach, and an indication of your preferred format. Proposals should be sent to historicalpoeticsC18C19@gmail.com by April 15, 2017. Questions can be addressed to Jeff Strabone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The two-day symposium will be held on November 3-4, 2017, at Connecticut College in New London, conveniently accessible by plane, train, or car. The event will pay tribute to the legacy of Paul Fussell (1924–2012), an influential member of the college's faculty and a grandfather of historical poetics.