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Lyric: the Idea of this Invention

Date and Time: 
Friday, April 10, 2015. 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Humanities Center, Board Room
Meeting Description: 

Please join us for our first event of Spring quarter with visiting speaker Marjorie Levinson.
About her project, Professor Levinson writes:
“Borrowing frameworks from one discipline for use in another” is how Jonathan Culler describes one of theory’s traditional agendas and it gives a good general account of my procedures in this essay.  Although the frameworks I borrow come from several disciplines (e.g., neurophysiology, post-classical physics, evolutionary biology, 19th-c morphology, developmental systems theory), they share a common paradigm (self-organization) and a common process (recursion).  That paradigm and that process are the connect with lyric form, one of my core topics.  The other topic is method, and there too I take a leaf from the sciences, arguing for an epistemic pluralism and, more radically, an ontic pluralism as well, such that we can allow not just different kinds of explanations for different levels of study, but different kinds of objects emerging at different scales and through different techniques of inquiry and display.  The validity of my contribution is therefore tied to its level of analysis, which I characterize, via Culler once again, as “theory of the middle range, or what used to be called poetics” (as distinct from “high theory” on the one hand, and “literary criticism” on the other).  By adapting some modeling moves from scientific discourses that target this middle range, I hope to circumvent the tired historicist/formalist standoff, and more important, to generate language for describing deep structure effects in the absence of deep structure causes and origins.  

About the speaker:

Marjorie Levinson is F.L. Huetwell Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, author of three monographs on Romantic period poets and topics, and board member of ELH and of the School of Criticism and Theory. Her recent articles all turn on theoretical and philosophical concerns and all remain tied to the question or instance of lyric.  Some representative titles: “A Motion and a Spirit: Romancing Spinoza,” Studies in Romanticism 2007; “What is New Formalism,” PMLA 2007; “Of Being Numerous: Counting and Matching in Wordsworth’s Poetry,” Studies in Romanticism, 2011; “Notes and Queries on Names and Numbers,” Romantic Circles Praxis, 2013.  These will appear in a book currently in the last stages of completion, titled "Field Reports: Materialism in Situ, 1990-2016."