March 1, 2011

Call for Papers: Formal Measures

Sixth Annual Graduate Student Comparative Poetics Colloquium

Department of Comparative Literature, Princeton University
Saturday, May 7, 2011

CALL FOR PAPERS UPDATE: Deadline for Proposals: March 20, 2011

On Saturday, May 7, 2011, the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University will host a colloquium in comparative poetics titled "Formal Measures." Graduate students at any stage in their work are welcome to submit proposals for a twenty-minute paper presentation.

In addition to two panels, the colloquium will feature a keynote lecture given by Derek Attridge (University of York), a poetry reading by A.E. Stallings (poet and translator; recipient of the Richard Wilbur Award), and a roundtable discussion in which Princeton scholars and poets will discuss the changing role of traditional metrical and prosodic considerations in the study and writing of poetry today.

"Formal Measures" proposes a multidisciplinary discussion of the cultural, political, historical and aesthetic significance and relevance of form and metrics in the writing and study of poetry today. In the wake of free verse, how does the transmission of traditional forms across historical and linguistic boundaries continue to shape our critical understanding and poetic practice? Are particular forms or meters indissociable from the languages in which they first appear? If yes, how do poetic forms nonetheless circulate between traditions and languages? Is there a formal or linguistic definition of poetry? In recent years, these questions have taken on increasing urgency, both inside and outside of the academy, as academics and poets have renewed their engagement with form. We are particularly interested in the circulation, appropriation and reinterpretation of formal schemes and metrical systems within and across poetic traditions and languages, in the tension between experimental and traditional forms, as well as in the metrical dimension of translating poetry.

We welcome papers that offer questions, challenges, elaborations, and interpretations of this year's theme. Papers may focus on any poetic tradition, language or period. We are especially interested in proposals that take a comparative or interdisciplinary approach. Topics may include but are not confined to the following:

-   Form as constraint/Form as freedom
-   Avant-garde/ Experimental use of traditional forms
-   Compositional constraints as poetic practice (Oulipo, etc.)
-   Theories of the relationship between form and literary meaning
-   Theories of prosody
-   Definitions of "poetry," the "poetic" or "poetic language"
-   The relation of poetry to music
-   The metrical dimension of translating poetry
-   Pre-modern form
-   Form and literary history
-   Form and the formation of literary canons
-   Form and individual style
-   Form and genre
-   Form and aesthetics
-   Form and the senses
-   Political uses of poetic form
-   Form and technology
-   Hybrid forms

Paper proposals should include a title, 250-word abstract, brief biography (including department affiliation and areas of interest) and contact information.  Please include at least one close reading in your paper and
send us attachments of the poems before the colloquium. Papers will be pre-circulated to moderators in late April in order for them to prepare responses in advance.  Audio-visual equipment is available upon request.

If you are interested in moderating a panel, please submit a curriculum vitae and a brief description of your interest in the colloquium by the proposal deadline.

Please send proposals via email attachment, as well as any questions, to

Thank you for your interest.

Ella Brians (Comparative Literature), Andy Lemons (Comparative Literature),
Kathryn Stergiopoulos (Comparative Literature), Amelia Worsley (English)


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