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Rethinking and Revaluing the Rhythmic

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Organizer: Thomas Wisniewski

Co-Organizer: Christopher Hasty

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Rethinking and Revaluing the Rhythmic For John Dewey, writing in 1910, the history of philosophy was to be understood in terms of a rhythmic ebb and flow of theory and practice: one would recede in cultural emphasis as the other came to the fore. Rhythm, in the early twentieth century, was more commonly associated with music and with literature than with theory: both poetry and prose were understood to be governed by the dictates of rhythm conceptualized as as ordered movement. Although literary theory has largely disregarded the rhythmic, criticism in recent years has made a rhythmic turn. This seminar takes up the question of the rhythmic in the context of a geographically, chronologically, linguistically, and culturally diverse range of genres, spanning from G.W.F. Hegel to Gertrude Stein and from Ernest Hemingway to George Eliot. In considering and augmenting the attention to rhythm in multiple registers, the seminar looks across modes of language, literature, and gender/genre. Our objective, more broadly, is to rethink prosody, as traditionally conceived in literary study, and to explore recent innovations in the study of rhythm in other disciplines, including music theory and linguistics, in order to theorize new approaches in comparative literature, thereby deepening understanding of rhythm across the arts.

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