The Between-ness of Lyric / Lyrik im Dazwischen / L’entre-deux lyrique

Ralph Mueller's picture
Call for Papers
December 3, 2018
Subject Fields: 
German History / Studies, Literature, French History / Studies

The Between-ness of Lyric / L’entre-deux lyrique / Lyrik im Dazwischen



CALL FOR PAPERS (deadline 3rd December 2018)
Second biennial conference of the International Network for the Study of Lyric
University of Lausanne, Switzerland
4th-7th June 2019


English, French, German (with subtitles in English)


At the inaugural conference of the INSL, in Boston 2017, we began to situate the lyric in its broad contours, its generic outlines, characteristic strategies and ways of knowing; we debated its historical and cultural components; and we identified possible frontiers and border transgressions. The second INSL conference aims to build on this groundwork, while pursuing further the notion of lyric operating between and across languages. We are also interested in the tensions that arise between historical approaches and transhistorical conceptions, between the analysis of printed books and works of transmediation, between ‘close reading’ and ‘distant reading’, as well as between regional and national concepts of lyric, on the one hand, and global, transnational and comparative perspectives, on the other.

We will not attempt to resolve the divisions and tensions that exist between fundamentally different approaches to lyric (e.g. theoretical, historical, creative) or different kinds of poetry (e.g. popular and literary, oral, printed, and multimedia forms), but we would like to explore how these tensions might generate new and dynamic, nuanced approaches. With this aim, several questions occur to us. Should we, in any measure, adopt narratological models or should this be resisted? Should we consider the lyric in opposition to, in complementarity with, or as indivisible from other discourses? Are there alternative models that could be developed based on international and multilingual factors? In what ways might the prefixes ‘inter-‘ or ‘trans-’ (as in, transgenre, transnational, transmedial, transhistorical, intertextual) help generate new ways of understanding the lyric? And how can quantitative analysis, as favoured in Digital Humanities approaches, contribute new understanding, alongside existing qualitative analytical traditions?


Although we will consider a limited number of proposals on other aspects of lyric, we particularly encourage proposals on any aspect of ‘the betweenness of lyric’. Questions might include, for example:

1. How to combine historical and theoretical approaches? Is it possible to adopt a historical perspective which can encompass a plurality of historical periods and cultures? How can we avoid ahistorical theorising? Should we instead develop transhistorical and/or comparative strategies?

2. How can we generalise about the lyric without forgetting the practices, norms and values of particular historical periods? How do we overcome the tendency in some theoretical approaches to relativise or overly abstract particular instances of lyric? How do we combine ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ perspectives on the lyric?
3. How do we reconcile the general or theoretical study of lyric with critical approaches that focus on lyric’s linguistic, regional and national specificities?
4. Which challenges do we face when approaching transmedial lyric? Do we need to develop new models (entirely), or are models developed from printed or oral lyric still useful? How to think about the lyric in the context of the digital era? How to bring together traditional oral lyric with more recent developments in performance poetry, slam and rap?
5. Does the impact of Digital Humanities entail a radical transformation of traditional forms of criticism, or can we bring the traditional and the digital together? Are there ways of combining quantitative and qualitative studies of lyric? How might Digital Humanities offer ways of getting around certain aporiae in existing approaches or, contrastingly, are there aspects of this new discipline that should be challenged or resisted?


This conference is co-organised by the International Network for the Study of Lyric (INSL, http//, a non-profit association of scholars interested in the theory of poetry. Its purpose is to promote and encourage the interdisciplinary study of poetry, lyric and verse in various languages, forms, media, and functions. In particular, it aims to encourage the interdisciplinary and international exchange of  approaches, conceptual frameworks, and theoretical advances relating to the study of poetry and the lyric. To stimulate what we hope will become a genuinely multilingual conversation, we have agreed that the 2019 conference at Lausanne will be held in English, French and German (with English subtitles).


Please send an abstract of 300–500 words (including your affiliation) by 3rd December 2018 to Proposals for a group of 3-4 papers forming a panel also welcome.


Steering Committee
Heather Dubrow (Fordham University, NYC), Ralph Mueller (Universität Freiburg, Switzerland), Antonio Rodriguez (Université de Lausanne), Hans Kristian Rustad (Universitetet i Oslo), William Waters (Boston University)

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