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Contemporary Poetry as Reconfiguration of the Real (bilingual French/English)

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Organizer: Victoria Bergstrom

Co-Organizer: Eric Lynch

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CFP en français:
The relationship between literature and the real has often been thought in light of a partition between fiction and reality, or further through a conception of the real as the inexpressible, as a “hole” (in Bataillian and Lacanian traditions). These relations have more recently been placed under the banner of a “return to the real”. Over the last thirty years, we have also witnessed the emergence of a field of poetic activity which takes its distance from conventional conceptions of these relations which rely variously on a division of experience into authentic and factitious spheres. In France, this field comprises poets such as Nathalie Quintane, Christophe Hanna, Franck Leibovici, Anne Portugal and Christophe Tarkos, to name only these: poets whose work takes seriously the dynamics inherent to everyday language and life, and makes it possible to conceive of the real as an immanent network of practices in continual transformation. In this way, these poets move away from idealized conceptions of poetry and poetic language allied with rhetorics of the inexpressible, discovery, presence or revelation, and think poetry instead as a set of tools and devices designed to reconfigure what we call ‘the real’ in a multitude of ways. This seminar will explore the possibilities opened up by this corpus for contemporary ways of thinking poetry as a means for reconfiguring the real.

Many of the poets named above draw inspiration from American Objectivists and Language poets (from Zukofsky and Reznikoff to Charles Bernstein and Bernadette Mayer), and as such the interest in everyday language common in this corpus owes much to the pragmatist and Russian formalist thought that influenced those Anglophone movements. One aim of this seminar will be to re-examine the circuits of influence that join these poetic communities, and thus to evaluate the hypothesis of a special affinity or filiation between contemporary experimental poetry and pragmatist thought.
Approaches to the question of the reconfiguration of the real by poetic means may include:

Poetic tools, operations and dispositifs 

The real in poetic theory

The status and critique of the notion of poetry and the notion of the real

Poetry and the extra-literary (visual arts, performance, investigations) or extra-artistic (sport, social activities, gardening, cooking, digital pastimes)

Language and the real

Poetry and everyday life

Poetry and pragmatist philosophy

Traffic between French and North American poetry

Intermedial approaches to the real (photographic representation, etc.)

Boundary between the real and the virtual

Language, experience, and experimentation

Poetry, politics, and problems of the public sphere

Documentary aesthetics in the poetry space

We welcome all pertinent proposals. This seminar will be bilingual French/English.
Co-organizers: Philippe Charron, Victoria Bergstrom, Eric Lynch

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