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Lyric Thinking

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Organizer: Andrew Franta

Co-Organizer: Daniel Stout

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This seminar is interested in how lyric poetry has been conceptualized and practiced as a distinctive form of thinking. The inquiry it proposes intersects with prior critical approaches to poetry’s epistemological entailments: How do poems think? What does poetry reveal about thinking? But it aims at a more expansive broaching of questions about the forms of thought that lyric poetry makes possible. What kinds of thinking have been imagined to be specific to lyric at particular historical moments? How have poets conceived of lyric poetry’s contributions to political, historical, or ethical thought? What roles have rhyme, meter, and rhythm played in conceptualizing poetic thinking? How might lyric’s distinctively figurative language conceive forms of thought unavailable by other means?

The seminar is open to the widest possible variety of methodological and historical approaches. We welcome papers that pursue critical, historical, linguistic, cognitive psychological, and historical or culturally comparative accounts of lyric cognition. What can computational literary studies or the “big data” methods of the digital humanities tell us about lyric thinking? How might recent advances in the development of generative AI engender or inform new approaches to the study of lyric? What does lyric thinking look like outside the Anglo-American tradition or before the “lyricization of poetry”? How might comparative approaches illuminate the kinds of thinking in which lyric is engaged?

We invite papers on these topics or any other aspect of lyric thinking. Please send inquiries and abstracts to the seminar organizers, Andrew Franta ( and Daniel Stout (

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