COLLEGE LITERATURE

a journal of critical literary studies

Call for Proposals - Special Issue

Poetry Networks, edited by Kamran Javadizadeh and Robert Volpicelli

The deeply felt presence of networked living in our time (through social networks, media networks, information networks, etc.) has opened up new approaches to reading literature that emphasize forms of connectivity and mediation. As Wesley Beal argues in The Networks of Modernism (2015), while the "vocabulary of networks" is very much a product of our current digital age, such language can be deployed rather broadly, across much of modern literature, to analyze the instances of distribution and interrelation that abound there. Adding to this emerging critical field, James Purdon (2016) has similarly noticed that many writers became "entangled" in "new informatic webs" of communication and information technologies almost as quickly as modernity has made these available; and Patrick Jagoda (2016) has used the phrase "networked aesthetics" to describe how the "feeling of connectedness" has come to stand in for a default condition of modern life.

So far such scholarship has succeeded in demonstrating the fundamental role that literature plays in networked discourses (and as a networked discourse itself). At the same time, however, it has tended to privilege narrative and the novel over other genres that might be equally involved in this conversation. Caroline Levine's standout Forms (2015) offers a useful example. Although this study briefly takes up the case of Emily Dickinson to illustrate how the "bounded shape" of the poet's hermetic life both sustained and was sustained by the "sprawling network" of her poetry's epistolary circulation, like the scholars above, Levine directs her most sustained analysis of network-as-form at the novel-in this case, Charles Dickens's Bleak House.

With the aim of building on what is only glimpsed in previous scholarship, this special issue looks to correct the underrepresentation of poetry in discussions of literary networks. Poetry's firm hold on the language of aesthetic autonomy has undoubtedly contributed to its own relegation to the outskirts of networked thinking. Yet literary history often confirms that poets-sometimes because of this greater sense of autonomy-have still made extensive use of networks in the making and distributing of their work. In the hope of transcending an apparent dichotomy (autonomy/network), this issue seeks new understandings of the relationship between poetry and networks, and the way these terms might respectively illuminate each other, by asking questions along the following lines: What happens if we look at poems as networks rather than as isolated islands? How do the social and communicative networks of poets give shape to their literary production? What are the networks that support and sustain poetry, and how do these impinge upon the meanings of poetic texts?

Submit a CV and 500-word proposals for essays between 8,000-10,000 words to robertvolpicelli@rmc.edu and kamran.javadizadeh@villanova.edu by January 18, 2018. When you submit your proposal, please copy College Literature (collit@wcupa.edu).

Article drafts will be due August 30, 2018 and will then be sent out for anonymous peer review.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Poetry and/as networked aesthetics
  • The lyric, the new lyric studies, and networked poetry
  • Forms of poetic exchange and collaboration (co-writing, correspondence, translation, editing, etc.)
  • Schools of poetry and other coteries (Symbolists, Imagists, Objectivists, Harlem Renaissance, The New York School, Black Mountain, etc.)
  • Poetry, activist groups, and/or minority coalitions (the Black Arts Movement, feminism, LGBTQ+, etc.)
  • The geographic movement of poets and poetry (local, regional, transnational, global, etc.)
  • Poetry's print networks (magazines, edited collections, anthologies, etc.)
  • The publishing and marketing industries for poetry
  • The institutions of poetry (academic, governmental, non-profit)
  • Archives of poetry / poetry as archives
  • Poetry and media, old and new (newspapers, telegraphs, radio, etc.)
  • Digital networks and poetic form (hypertexts, poetry on social media, online poetic communities, etc.)
  • Digital humanities approaches to reading poetry