Theoretical and Methodological Framework
The different theoretical and methodological perspectives used in this project are divided between five main schools of thought, which supplement each other:
- Close reading inspired by formalism and new criticism, focusing on poetic style and rhetorical categories such as rhythm and figurative language
- Classic and poststructuralist theory on and analysis of genre, narrativity and intertextuality, focusing on polyphony and poetic hybrid forms
- Performativity theory and analysis, focusing on oral poetic forms
- Interart theory and analysis, focusing on poetry’s interaction with visual art, music and other art forms
- Media theory and analysis, focusing on poetry’s role on the Internet and in the new social media
In terms of theory and methodology, the project will undoubtedly lead to a paradigm shift within poetry research. Traditionally, the poetry research has mainly: 1) Focused on the first-mentioned school; 2) Kept the five above-mentioned methodological positions separate. This project demands a radical innovation of the theory and methodology in relation to poetry. The four latter schools of analysis will be used in innovative ways, and new interdisciplinary methods will be developed, in which several different methods are combined. In all of the subprojects different methodological approaches are combined in ways that have never been seen before within poetry research.
Each of the project’s sub-themes, “poetry between genres”, “poetry between art forms” and “poetry between media”, demands a combination of specific methodological approaches. As regards “poetry between genres”, a combination of close reading focusing on poetic style and rhetorical categories such as rhythm and figurative language, and poststructuralist theory on and analysis of genre and intertextuality is conducted. As for “poetry between art forms”, new insights are created by combining performativity theory and analysis, and interart theory and methodology. Finally, interart theory and methodology are combined with media theory and analysis in new ways in the discussion of the field “poetry between media”.
The theoretical and methodological innovation will especially be created in connection with the exchanges with other international research environments (e.g., postdoctoral student’s stay at The University of Edinburgh as well as in the international conferences held in conjunction with the project). The postdoc project is formed on the basis of an extremely ambitious and original PhD dissertation on one of the central issues in the project, namely the relationship between poetry and sound/performance, and will undoubtedly lead to innovative research in the field. Also the PhD project on the relationship between contemporary poetry and visual arts is strategic and important in relation to the project's innovative approach to poetry.
The project deals with a selection of the most prominent poets from Europe, USA and the Third World experimenting in the field between genres, art forms and media. Important names are Christian Yde Frostholm, Mette Moestrup, Ursula Andkjær Olsen, Morten Søndergaard, Jørgen Leth, Cia Rinne, Ottar Ormstad, John Heldén, Peter Licht, Jason Nelson, Adam Green, Jim Rosenberg, Robert Kendall, John Cayley, Jhave Johnston, Serge Bouchardon, Eugenio Tisseli, Rui Torres, and Yong Hun Kim.
The project is divided into three phases that deal with the three above-mentioned sub-themes. The three overlapping phases are 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-2016. The subprojects have all been designed so that they, on the one hand, all discuss a specific aspect of the topic. On the other hand, they all relate to the overall thesis of the project. As is evident from the scope of the project and the subprojects, the aim is to produce a unified analytical methodology of contemporary poetry. The 8 subprojects are:
Poetry between Genres (2013-14)
- Modern Hybrid Poetic Forms: The Contemporary Long Poem (Ole Karlsen)
- Poetry and the Remix of Genre and Tradition (Louise Mønster & Rikke Kraglund)
Poetry between Art Forms (2014-15)
- Lyrics: Between Poetry and Music (postdoc project, Jakob Schweppenhäuser)
- The poetics of poetry performance (Stefan Kjerkegaard & Birgitte Stougaard Pedersen)
Poetry between Media (2015-16)
- Contemporary Poetry between the Book and the Internet (Peter Stein Larsen)
- Radicant Poetry. Poetry in the Media Ecology of Our Time (Hans Kristian Rustad & Dan Ringgaard)
- Poetry IRL (Rasmus Dahl Vest)
Modern Hybrid Poetic Forms: The Contemporary Long Poem (Ole Karlsen)
In the post-war era, what has become known as the modernist long poem has received much critical attention, particularly within American research focusing on high modernist poetic classics of Eliot, Pound and Williams. Traditionally, studies in this field have tended to highlight the modernist character of the long poem, tracing its roots back to the early modern poetic era and often placing its roots in Whitman’s authorship. More recent studies of the long poem, as it has slowly established itself as a generic term (Höllerer 1966) in the postwar era from categories such as cycle poems (Cameron 1979) and the modern poetic sequence (Rosenthal and Gall 1983), have focused on generic aspects of this genre, describing it through its lawlessness and inherent newness (Kamboureli 1991) or mapping it through its novelistic or architectural modes (McHale 2004). Although these studies and generic characteristics are applicable also with a view to the contemporary poetic scene where the long poem plays a dominant role (Karlsen 2008, 2011), they fall short of explaining, i.a. other things, the role played by the German Lang-Gedichte-tradition in the development of the genre and its creation of polyphonic newness through adaption of novelistic or architectural forms from both modern and modernist literature and from pre-romantic literary forms (such as didactic forms, topographic literature, etc). Through a close reading of selected contemporary long poems, the generic aspects of the genre will be researched, mapped and related to the development of the genre in postwar years, with a particular view to the way in which these works draw on pre-modern literary forms. The subproject combines the above analytical and theoretical traditions 1), 2) and 3).
Poetry and the Remix of Genre and Tradition (Louise Mønster & Rikke A. Kraglund)
Contemporary poetry is characterised by a perforation of poetry’s traditional boundaries and forms (Mønster 2012; Larsen 2012). In many ways, poetry is breaking up, but this does not mean that it has lost interest in tradition. On the contrary, new poetry has emerged in an intense dialogue with tradition. This can be seen in a very concrete manner as literary genres such as remix, pastiche and parody have gained currency, and cut-up techniques, poetry mashup and readymade poetry or found lyrics have been used extensively. Different intertextual strategies have been applied in what seems to be both a revolt against and a rehabilitation of a tradition in which popular culture and classical poetry are meeting in surprising ways (Worton & Still 1990; Kamboureli 1991; Wolf & Bernhart 1999; Orr 2003; Mønster 2011). The subproject aims at describing the relation between contemporary poetry and tradition, paying particular attention to the question of genre. A central focus point will be the recycling and remix of old genres and texts in contemporary poetry. In addition to well-known forms such as pastiche and parody, these strategies are using the sampling techniques of electronic music. Furthermore, they transgress the relation between classical lyrical genres and the book media by remediating these genres within the frames of the book object and the computer, i.e. the subproject combines the above theoretical and analytical traditions 1), 2) and 5).
Lyrics: Between Poetry and Music (postdoc project, Jakob Schweppenhäuser)
Western civilisation seems to be in the midst of a kind of revolution: we are experiencing a shift from a print culture to electronic media (Gioia 2003). In this process, literature has undergone fundamental changes – one being that poetry is increasingly performed off the page instead of on the page (Perloff 2004). This development has numerous different expressions: audio books, poetry slam, performance poetry, poetry readings – and song lyrics (Schweppenhäuser 2011; Naschert 2006; Faulstich 1978). Whether they are collaborations between poets and musicians (e.g. the Danish duo Moritz/Hørslev Projektet), the poet himself singing his lyrics (e.g. the German writer and musician Peter Licht) or simply lyrically gifted singer-songwriters (e.g. the American versatile artist Adam Green), lyrics of a high literary interest are interacting with music in new and remarkable ways. Deriving from the Greek noun λυρική, which is closely connected to the instrument lyre, the English word ‘lyrics’ points at the original inseparability between poetry and music. The relationship between these two art forms has been scrutinised thoroughly and in several ways (e.g. Aurnhammer & Schnitzler 2011; Pedersen 2008; Dürr 1994; Winn 1981; Friedrich 1973; Staiger 1947; Raymond 1909). However, regarding contemporary lyrics, there is a striking lack of scholarly engagement. Since the field of research is fundamentally interdisciplinary, the project draws on intermediality theory (Bruun 2010; Rajewsky 2002: Helbig 1998). Also, the notion of the voice (Lønstrup 2004; Barthes 1981) plays a central role to the project, as well as to a broader perspective concerning the relationship between orality and literacy (Ong 1982; Finnegan 1977). The subproject combines the above analytical and theoretical traditions 1), 3), 4) and 5).
The Poetics of Poetry Performance (Stefan Kjerkegaard & Birgitte S. Pedersen)
Much theory on poetry is not applicable if one wants to describe non-written poetry, usually performed outside the book frame as a primary product. During the first decade of the 21st century this kind of poetry, however, became widespread (Gioia 2003). This subproject will describe the oral change captured in contemporary written poetry and will focus on poetry readings and performances as an independent and analysable object, relating it to existing theory within the field (Foley 2002; Middleton 2005). Our thesis is that the effect of the poetry reading culture can be described by relating it to the two trends described in P. Stein Larsen’s doctoral dissertation Drømme og dialoger (2009), i.e. one can describe how ‘centrallyrik’ and ‘interaktionslyrik’ embody the audible side of poetry and, next, how this oral culture around poetry is reflected in written poems within the bookframe. The consequence of the perception of poetry as a performative art form has been that the status of the written poetry and of the poetic voice has changed. In many contemporary poems the literary voice seems neither to be a pure instance of writing, nor an indication of a physical voice, miming the intention of the author, but rather a rhetorical principle or a function arising in the relationship between reader and text (Pedersen 2008). New challenges thus occur regarding the status of the literary voice in contemporary poetry. In continuation of this, the contemporary poet’s use of new medial platforms in relation to the voice ought to be analysed (Rustad 2008) as well as new types of performative actions, e.g. reading cultures (Kjerkegaard 2010), are involved in changing the discourse of a poetic voice. The subproject combines the above theoretical and analytical traditions 4) and 5).
Contemporary Poetry between the Book and the Internet (Peter Stein Larsen)
The subproject aims to explore the relation between book poetry and digital poetry and will focus on the distinctive differences and similarities between poetry presented in these two media. Several trends within the tradition of poetry have become intensified and further developed after the emergence of the Internet, namely hypertextual structure (Eco 1998; Aarseth 1997), serial forms (Eco 2011; Larsen 2012) and procedural forms (Conte 1991; Larsen 2009). On the other hand, we find significant changes in both genre and work concepts, such as author and reader roles, in the transition from book poetry to digital poetry (Kress 2003; Morris and Swiss 2006; Engberg 2007). Has the concept of genre become meaningless in relation to digital poetry, since it is claimed that the hybrid nature of the new multimodal poetry in which complex mixtures of writing, speech, image, graphics, film and sound effects are found entails that ‘each work is a genre in itself’ (Sørensen 2010)? Is the concept of literary works dissolved when you cannot define works with categories such as poem and collection of poems? Has the work as a stable object become replaced by the text as an act or an event? And has the poet lost his authority and authenticity (Larsen 2009) in “ergodic” poetry (Aarseth 1997), in which the reader’s interaction with the text is an inseparable part of poetic aesthetics (Rustad 2012)? And finally: What is the relationship between the original definition of poetry and contemporary poetry? The subproject combines the above theoretical and analytical traditions 1), 2), 4) and 5).
Radicant Poetry: Poetry in the Media Ecology of Our Time (Hans Kristian Rustad & Dan Ringgaard)
Poetry has to a greater extent than other literary genres moved between different media (Bolter 2006; Kress 2003). Digital and performance-oriented poetry consists of complex mixtures of writing, speech, image, graphics, film, body language and sound effects (Hayles 2005; 2008; Bolter & Grusin 1999; Bolter 2001). The subproject will consider contemporary poetry as a “radicant aesthetic” (Bourriaud 2009), i.e., art works in motion through acts of translation, and it develops through different forms, in different situations and in different media. We will discuss the theoretical perspectives of poetry within intermediality (Wolf & Bernhart 1999; Bernstein 2011; Middleton 2005; Chion 1994), especially that of remediation (Bolter & Grusin 1999) or recycling and the idea of modal constituents across the particulars of single art forms (Mitchell 2007; Bruhn 2011; Ringgaard 2012). The subproject focuses on how to define and understand the new multimodal poetry and to answer the question: What happens with the poetic texts in their movements between media, and which implications do the poetic texts have on the media? The aim of the project is thus to show how contemporary poetry can give us knowledge about the complex media ecology of our time. The subproject combines the above theoretical and analytical traditions 3), 4) and 5).
Poetry IRL (Rasmus Dahl Vest)
The use of social media has actively transformed the western civilization by changing the very way we interact. What we are experiencing might be the long awaited departure from the Gutenberg Galaxy (McLuhan 1962; 1967; Ong 1982) or maybe even the end of print culture (Gioia 2003). Whatever one might call it, there is no denying that our use of social media has blurred, if not destroyed, the line between public and private (Thompson 2001; 2005). As such it seems appropriate to ask a few questions concerning contemporary poetry; the first and foremost being: What happens to poetry, when it is dragged into “real” life? In other words, what happens to poetry, when life is partly lived through media interfaces? This subproject strives to answer these questions by claiming, that contemporary poetry in the digital age has become part of the trans-media distribution of language, which constitutes the digital age’s social sphere. Hence a new approach to contemporary poetry is needed; one which takes into account that contemporary poetry is stretched in time through the use of different media (LP, CD, book, web based blog, artists book etc.). The subproject will in the developing of this approach address themes such as postproduction (Bourriaud 2002), intertextuality and hypertextuality (Genette 1997) and remediation (Bolter 2001; Bolter and Grusin 1999; Berge 2011). In continuation of this the concepts of voice and author will be discussed, since the subproject will claim that trans-media poetry in its essence can be viewed as a fluid juxtaposition of the private and the collective. A juxtaposition which naturally raises the subproject’s final question; whether or not it might be beneficial to perceive contemporary poetry as politically charged (Nexø 2009; Serup 2008). By answering these questions the subproject will be able to expand on poetry’s role in the digital age or put differently: define poetry IRL. The subproject combines the above theoretical and analytical traditions 3), 4) and 5).
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