[Msa-discuss] Fwd: Session Proposal

Alex Christie achris at uvic.ca
Wed Mar 2 19:38:08 EST 2016


> Begin forwarded message:
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> From: "Rapaport, Herman" <rapapoh at wfu.edu>
> Subject: Session Proposal
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> Session Proposal for MSA Convention, Nov. 2016
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> Political Poetry and the Problem of History. 
> There is a tendency today to write a political poetry, a poetry that may effect actual change.  Political in this context means Activist and hence a poetry that is inevitably didactic. Oddly, this political tendency seems to have little to do with historical consciousness, the sense of one’s actually taking place inside history as a process that determines one’s existence as a social subject. Politically activist views don’t necessarily take account of how present attitudes have come into being historically, because they are aimed at taking direct action that only finds obstruction in the intricacies of established traditions, sedimented values, or structural impediments whose formation is historically conditioned. Political activism, in this sense, is typically a sort of crisis management that is supposed to work by brute force, rhetorically as well as physically, something that complements technological brute force in the sphere of industrial production and the consumer products that industry develops. From such a perspective, one imagines a world full of possibilities unencumbered by tradition and history, a world that, much like a machine, can be fixed by politically minded social engineers: captains of social enlightenment and improvement. This tendency follows the free expansion of one’s vital desires, which is a hallmark of modernism, bought at the expense of being mediated by history as a process of social and individual formation that is forced to acknowledge limits and constraints. The aim of this session is to explore relations of poetry to history, particularly in terms of the historical experience of the poet as someone who finds himself or herself mediated by historical events and circumstances. Crucial is that such historical circumstances alter one’s relationship to the life world in ways that are transformative for consciousness, but also for who one is as a social subject that can’t be reduced to an ideological agenda of activist positions that obey the call of a demanding subjectivity above the fray of historical change and the encumberments of tradition.  
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> Marjorie Perloff, Stanford and USC, “History has many contrived corridors”:  T. S. Eliot entre deux guerres
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> Brian Reed, University of Washington—Poetry and the Event, The Case of Mayakovsky
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> Herman Rapaport, Wake Forest University, "Celan, Ashbery, Hejinian"  
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> Herman Rapaport
> Reynolds Professor of English
> Director, Interdisciplinary Program in Medieval & Early Modern Studies
> Wake Forest University
> Winston-Salem
> NC 27108
> 

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