Announcing the Columbia-Penn Poetics Initiative

We are convening a three-day conference at Columbia (June 11-13, 2010), “Rethinking Poetics.” It is our sense that the practices of poetics are in danger of becoming pro forma and that a focused, skeptical examination of basic assumptions will be most useful. Terms continue to be used routinely in circumstances that increasingly call for nuanced or even fundamental change. What does “materiality of the signifier” mean in the era of data mining or platform instability? What does “news” mean? How useful are current periodizations? Such questions can be multiplied.

Given that new questions need to be raised and old certainties troubled, our goal is to have a conference dedicated to articulating what most needs to be rethought, what familiar formulations seem increasingly inadequate, what new directions seem best to pursue.

In order to allow for time for substantial conversation, we are scheduling no multiple panels and no plenaries; rather, there will be a series of plenary-panels, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, with four or five speakers each taking 10-12 minutes for themselves, leaving half the session for more general discussion. There will be a panel chair to moderate discussion, but there will be no introductions.

Participants will include Rachel Zolf, Rodrigo Toscano, Jennifer Scappettone, Brent Hayes Edwards, Lytle Shaw, Juliana Spahr, Erica Hunt, Alan Golding, Monica de la Torre, Andrew Schelling, Bruce Andrews, Michael Taussig, Joan Retallack, Rachel DuPlessis, K. Silem Mohammad, Jena Osman, Craig Dworkin, Elizabeth Willis, Barrett Watten, Rob Fitterman, Jonathan Skinner, Marjorie Perloff, Sherwin Bitsui, Mark Nowak, Judith Goldman, C. S. Giscombe, Steve Evans, Stephanie Young, Lisa Robertson, Paul Stephens, Rob Halpern, Jeff Derksen, Ben Friedlander, Joshua Clover, Michael Taussig, Astrid Lorange, James Livingston, Jeff Nealon, Fred Moten, Richard Doyle, Tan Lin, Tonya Foster, Matthew Hofer, John Melillo, Susan Howe, and Charles Bernstein.

Conference costs for the 3-day conference are $50/university faculty, $20/student & unaffiliated; $10 1-day entrance.

All panels will take place in 301 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University. Columbia campus map available here.

Also check out our Facebook page, at “Rethinking Poetics Conference.”

Conference Organizers: Bob Perelman (UPenn) and Michael Golston (Columbia U.)

Please send any inquiries to Aaron Winslow at rethinkingpoetics AT


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