Historical Poetics Symposium

a poem: historical poetics and the problem of exemplarity

Man in an alley in Surry Hills
December 13-15, 2016.

Co-hosted by the Writing and Society Research Centre and the Centre for Modernism Studies Australia
UNSW, Randwick (Dec 13) and Western Sydney University, Bankstown Campus (Dec 14-15)

Keynote speakers

Justin Clemens (opens in a new window)(Melbourne)
David Nowell Smith (opens in a new window)(UEA)
Meredith Martin (opens in a new window)(Princeton)


Most studies of poetry, whether historically or theoretically inclined, tend to reserve close attention for exemplary poems – works that in some way embody and make tangible the theoretical propositions or historical narrative being elaborated. The recent emergence of 'historical poetics' has challenged the old opposition of history and theory by focussing attention on the historicity of prosodic theories. If, as critics in this field variously assert, historical poetics can restore the historical thinking that poems do, are we destined only to restore the thinking of those poems that exemplify the claims the critic hopes to make? Might we end up looking only at the reflection of our methodological apparatus rather than at that which is particular (or historical) in the poem? The central aim of this symposium is to test the notion of historical poetics against the idea of the individual poem. We will examine how the individual poem presents challenges both for a historical understanding of poetic form and for a formalist understanding of poetry's history.

Read the call for papers.

Download the symposium program.

Please register via Eventbrite by 6 December 2016 (opens in a new window)

Getting there

The opening keynote on Tuesday December 13 will be held in Room 327 of the Robert Webster Building at UNSW in Randwick (G14 on this campus map(opens in a new window)). Information on getting to UNSW campus(opens in a new window).

All sessions on Wednesday December 14 and Thursday December 15 will be held in room G.55 of Building 3 at the Milperra ('Bankstown') campus of Western Sydney University (view campus map). Information on getting to Western Sydney University.

Convenors and Contact

Ben Etherington (b.etherington@westernsydney.edu.au)
Sean Pryor (s.pryor@unsw.edu.au)

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