The past decades have seen several critical efforts toward a renewed focus on literary form, from discussions of a “new formalism” to work on historical prosody. Research on prosody itself – particularly meter and rhythm –which for some time had been left to linguists, has become the focus of a range of critical projects, historical and theoretical. This seminar explores that trend, asking what sort of productive ways of talking about rhythm we can devise. (We take rhythm to be a crucial experiential dimension of lyric, dependent upon metrical frames but not determined by them.) Does the study of rhythm and meter contribute to recent discussions of lyric as a genre? To what extent does the history of rhythm ground our inherited sense of literary history, and how might shifts in our understanding of the former change the latter? What stake does literary theory have in theories of rhythm, and how might a renewed focus on rhythm help theory and criticism interrogated receive concepts of the text and its genres?
We welcome proposals that attempt to advance our understanding of rhythm, whether across time periods or national boundaries, within particular theoretical frameworks, or in the practice of certain literary periods or types of verse (modernism, free verse, etc.)