Critical Rhythm

Critical Rhythm : The Poetics of a Literary Life Form

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Description

Rhythm constitutes an untapped resource for understanding poetry, making 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 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. Pressing beyond poetry handbooks' isolated descriptions of technique, the book asks what it means to think rhythm.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 312 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 18.29mm | 471.74g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0823282031
  • 9780823282036

Back cover copy

"What does it mean, and what has it meant historically, to participate in verse's rhythmic patternings? This volume, with incandescent and defamiliarizing rhythms of its own, takes up rhythm as the central, ever-fugitive term in debates over sound and sense, the visible and the audible, the history of prosodic discourses, and methodological approaches to reading and performance. Reaching beyond the metrical constraints of foot prosody to powers of rhythm generally left underexplored in Anglo-American criticism, the formidable array of scholars gathered here opens up resonant inquiries into empirical, historical, ontological, phenomenological, and allegorical dimensions of rhythm in English-language verse of the past two centuries."--Max Cavitch, University of Pennsylvania

Rhythm constitutes an untapped resource for understanding poetry. Amid debates over formalism, historicism, and poetics, this book reveals rhythm as a defamiliarizing aesthetic force yet 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 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. Warning against taking rhythm to refer to a given form, the essays press beyond poetry handbooks' isolated descriptions of technique in order to ask what it means to think rhythm.

Rhythm, the contributors show, happens relative to the body and also to language--two categories that are distinct from the literary, the mode through which poetics is usually 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

Ben Glaser is Assistant Professor of English at Yale University. Jonathan Culler is Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University.
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Table of contents

Introduction

Ben Glaser, 1


Rhythm's Critiques


Why Rhythm?

Jonathan Culler, 21


What Is Called Rhythm?

David Nowell Smith, 40


Sordello's Pristine Pulpiness

Simon Jarvis, 60


Body, Throng, Race


The Cadence of Consent: Francis Barton Gummere, Lyric Rhythm, and White Poetics

Virginia Jackson, 87


Contagious Rhythm: Verse as a Technique of the Body

Haun Saussy, 106


Constructing Walt Whitman: Literary History and Histories of Rhythm

Erin Kappeler, 128


Beat and Count


The Rhythms of the English Dolnik

Derek Attridge, 153


How to Find Rhythm on a Piece of Paper

Thomas Cable, 174


Picturing Rhythm

Meredith Martin, 197


Fictions of Rhythm


Beyond Meaning: Differing Fates of Some Modernist Poets' Investments of Belief in Sounds

Natalie Gerber, 223


Sapphic Stanzas: How Can We Read the Rhythm?

Yopie Prins 247


Rhythm and Affect in "Christabel"

Ewan Jones, 274


Acknowledgments 297


List of Contributors 299


Index 303
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Review quote

"What does it mean, and what has it meant historically, to participate in verse's rhythmic patternings? This volume, with incandescent and defamiliarizing rhythms of its own, takes up rhythm as the central, ever-fugitive term in debates over sound and sense, the visible and the audible, the history of prosodic discourses, and methodological approaches to reading and performance. Reaching beyond the metrical constraints of foot prosody to powers of rhythm generally left underexplored in Anglo-American criticism, the formidable array of scholars gathered here opens up resonant inquiries into empirical, historical, ontological, phenomenological, and allegorical dimensions of rhythm in English-language verse of the past two centuries." -- Max Cavitch, University of Pennsylvania
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About Derek Attridge

Ben Glaser (Edited By)

Ben Glaser is Assistant Professor of English at Yale University.

Jonathan Culler (Edited By)

Jonathan Culler is Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University and the author of numerous books on literary theory, including Structuralist Poetics, On Deconstruction, and Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. His most recent book is Theory of the Lyric (Harvard, 2015).
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