[Msa-discuss] CFP for ACLA 2019: Collective Voice and Literary Form

Christopher Spaide cspaide at g.harvard.edu
Sun Sep 16 12:57:19 EDT 2018

Dear all: please consider submitting an abstract, due Thursday 20 September
at 9am EST, to yet another seminar at ACLA 2019 (Georgetown University;
Washington, DC; 7–10 March 2019). Feel free to reach us at
samueljdiener at gmail.com and cspaide at g.harvard.edu. Thanks! Best, Chris


Collective Voice and Literary Form


How has literary form—lyric or otherwise, written or oral, scored for one
voice or orchestrated from many—spoken for the collective? What constitutes
collective voice: can an “I” speak for a single self yet stand for, or in
solidarity with, others? Why might an author speak plurally, as a “we”?
What can ground a collective voice—common identities, political solidarity,
national ties, contagious affects, shared victimization? How might the will
to speak collectively spur formal invention, new senses of authorship and
collaboration, innovations in publication, reading, and criticism? How do
literary texts take up questions of collective agency, and how might they
build coalitions?

For some, these questions may be familiar from the work of literary
critics: in the case of poetry, W. R. Johnson’s *The Idea of Lyric* (1982)
and more recently Juliana Spahr’s *Everybody’s Autonomy* (2001), Dorothy J.
Wang’s *Thinking Its Presence* (2014), and Bonnie Costello’s *The Plural of
Us* (2017); or, for prose, the work of Uri Margolin, Brian Richardson, and
Amit Marcus. For others, these questions will recall social theorists that
examine the remarkable capacity of people to act, think, and even feel
together. Group psychology and crowd theory, Émile Durkheim’s *conscience
collective* and Benedict Anderson’s “imagined communities,” contributions
to affect theory by thinkers such as Sara Ahmed and Lauren Berlant: all
these have given us new ways to think about human solidarity.

These questions, theories, and thinkers will guide our seminar as we survey
the full range of the collective voice, listening across regions and
traditions, from ancient choral to today’s post-lyric experiments. We
welcome presentations engaging closely with case studies of particular
writers, texts, and literary forms that have succeeded (or interestingly
failed) in formulating a collective voice, as well as presentations
exploring or applying theories of collectivity. We hope to host a
heterogenous, lively, and collective conversation.

Co-organizers: Samuel Diener and Christopher Spaide, Harvard University
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