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Before Prosody:Early English Poetics in Practice and Theory

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, October 28, 2015. 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
260-252
Meeting Description: 

Speaker:
Eric Weiskott is Assistant Professor of English at Boston College. His research centers on medieval literature and meter and poetics. His current book project, The Durable Alliterative Tradition, is a cultural history of the English alliterative meter, c. 650-1550 CE. Eric's articles appear in Anglo-Saxon England, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Modern Philology, Yearbook of Langland Studies, and elsewhere.

Meeting description:
Scholars of Victorian poetry have called for a ‘historical poetics’ that would reevaluate the received narrative of English literary history by recovering alternate ways of theorizing and experiencing poetic form. This essay takes a longer view onto the histories of English poetry from the perspective of Old English and Middle English verse. The primary purpose of the essay is to offer medieval English poetry as a case study for historical poetics, thereby bringing a different literary archive to bear on critical conversations about the theory and practice of English versification. Through three case studies drawn from ongoing research on the alliterative tradition, I seek to demonstrate what is distinctive about the cultural work of early English poetics. Recognition of the ways in which modern questions fail to illuminate medieval meters is the first step toward a more capacious historical poetics.

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