Critical Rhythm : The Poetics of a Literary Life Form

Critical Rhythm : The Poetics of a Literary Life Form


This book shows how rhythm constitutes an untapped resource for understanding poetry. Intervening in recent debates over formalism, historicism, and poetics, the authors show how rhythm is at once a defamiliarizing aesthetic force and an unstable concept. Distinct from the related terms to which it's often assimilated-scansion, prosody, meter-rhythm makes legible a range of ways poetry affects us that cannot be parsed through the traditional resources of poetic theory.

Rhythm has rich but also problematic roots in still-lingering nineteenth-century notions of primitive, oral, communal, and sometimes racialized poetics. But there are reasons to understand and even embrace its seductions, including its resistance to lyrical voice and even identity. Through exploration of rhythm's genealogies and present critical debates, the essays consistently warn against taking rhythm to be a given form offering ready-made resources for interpretation. Pressing beyond poetry handbooks' isolated descriptions of technique or inductive declarations of what rhythm "is," the essays ask what it means to think rhythm.

Rhythm, the contributors show, happens relative to the body, on the one hand, and to language, on the other-two categories that are distinct from the literary, the mode through which poetics has tended to be analyzed. Beyond articulating what rhythm does to poetry, the contributors undertake a genealogical and theoretical analysis of how rhythm as a human experience has come to be articulated through poetry and poetics. The resulting work helps us better understand poetry both on its own terms and in its continuities with other experiences and other arts.

Contributors: Derek Attridge, Tom Cable, Jonathan Culler, Natalie Gerber, Ben Glaser, Virginia Jackson, Simon Jarvis, Ewan Jones, Erin Kappeler, Meredith Martin, David Nowell Smith, Yopie Prins, Haun Saussy

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Derek Attridge, Jonathan Culler, Ben Glaser, Simon Jarvis, David Nowell Smith, Haun Saussy, Tom Cable, Natalie Gerber
Hardback | 288 pages
152 x 229 x 22.35mm | 612.35g
Publication date
08 Jan 2019
Fordham University Press
Publication City/Country
New York, United States