Cosmopoetics: Mediating a New World Poetics

In Conference on 23/04/2010 at 20:28

Moon-Gate – Alec Finlay, 2008. Photograph, Alexander Maris
COSMOPOETICS: Mediating a New World Poetics

An International Conference – 8-10 September, 2010

Department of English Studies – Durham University, UK

Deadline for proposals: 15 May 2010


Derek Attridge (University of York)

Stephen Bann (University of Bristol)

Michael Davidson (University of California, San Diego)

Frank Lentricchia (Duke University)


Cosmopoetics aims to expose an important aperture in contemporary poetry and poetics. Departing from the significant ground gained in late twentieth century poetic avant-gardism, Cosmopoetics takes up the difficult task of defining a twenty-first century poetics. Neither utopian nor dystopian, Cosmopoetics directs itself towards thinking a poetic atopia, a poetic interval within which the multiple currents of communication, mediation and influence mix; poetics as a particular border-crossing, trans-linguistic, socio-economic phenomenon. It is simultaneously sensitive to cultural and natural concepts of world or cosmos, and individual and aesthetic concepts of poesis, or the production of poetry, and seeks to re-centre contemporary poetry in its mediating capacity, as bridge between the singular and the universal, the local and the global, the creative and the critical.

Michael Davidson speaks of the North American Free Trade Agreement as having created “a form of unheimlich reality through which subjects are produced and economic displacement is lived”. He sees the literary upshot of this is a community which operates cosmopoetically, “across national borders and cultural agendas”. Cosmopoetics amplifies the prospect of a cosmopolitics: “Cosmos protects against the premature closure of politics and politics against the premature closure of cosmos”, in the words of Bruno Latour. At the intersection of poetic form and formation, Cosmopoetics investigates the immediate forces of mediation – poetry as medium and mediator – between otherwise heterogenous ideas and concepts.

We hope that the conference will reveal some of the many ways in which contemporary poetry and poetics still has a significant role to play in forging both new worlds and new ways of relating to existing paradigms of “cosmos”. As Franco Moretti wrote, “The literature around us is now unmissably a planetary system”. In this light, we propose to explore the manner in which poetry, whether by design or accident, is also capable of revealing the contemporary as an atopian paradigm, a space sans frontières, or of non-spaces which simultaneously reflects upon and makes possible the reconsideration of poetic or generative force.

Proposals are welcomed in (but not restricted to) the following areas:

Innovations and trends in c.21st poetry and poetics
Cosmopoetics and Cosmopolitics
Poetry as mediation
Communicative poetic force
Poetic atopia or cosmos
The space of poetry
Poetry and ‘World Literature’
Digital / Print culture
Poetic form today
New media poetics
Poetry between the local and the global
Relocation / dislocation of resistance
Writing across / without borders

Please send 300 word proposals for papers of 20 minutes to Marc Botha and Heather Yeung at by 15th May 2010.

This conference is taking place with the support of the Department of English Studies,  Centre for Poetry and Poetics, Faculty of Humanities, Institute of Advanced Study,  and Graduate School of the University of Durham.

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