Translated Prosody

[cfp for a session Ben Glaser and I are organizing for next March’s meeting of the ACLA. Proposals by 1 Nov. Our cfp is also posted on the ACLA site, here.]

Translated Prosody
ACLA 2014 @ NYU
Ben Glaser and Ian Cornelius

Foreign prosodies have long spurred poetic invention. Latin quantitative forms were constructed on the model of Greek verse; Italian and French verse inspired Chaucer to develop his five beat line, the first incarnation of English iambic pentameter; Catullian hendecasyllabics supplied a model for Tennyson and Frost when they went after their critics. Broad debates over the teaching and practice of classical scansion fueled the nineteenth century’s profusion of meter; certain rhythms from Laforgue linger in English modernism.

These phenomena raise many questions. What happens when a poet takes a foreign meter as a model? Is it possible to “translate” prosody? If so, how does this happen? How does the act of prosodic translation select and create equivalences between one prosodic system and another? What deformations, transformation, or innovations result from this process? Why do poets undertake these experiments? What is it about the space between phonologies and between national metrical traditions that draws poets to adopt metrical models from languages other than their own? What kinds of readership or audience do these prosodically hybrid compositions anticipate, presuppose, or construct? Do foreign models depend on recognition, or do they serve poets and poetic traditions in a more structural way (for instance, as resources for counterpointing and dissonance)? Finally, to what extent are foreign models and the study of prosody (i.e. scansion) mutually dependent or destabilizing?

This panel invites scholars of any period and poetic tradition to suggest new ways of scanning and interpreting translated prosody. Although we are primarily interested in inter-linguistic crossings, we will also consider paper proposals which think about crossings between traditions and tendencies within a single language (e.g., returns of the Alexandrine in vers libre; alliteration in accentual-syllabic English verse; the development of accentual Latin verse forms in the Middle Ages). We also welcome studies of actual translation, both historical and contemporary. We are especially interested in papers founded in efforts—however tentative—at scansion of these chimeras.

Please contact or with any questions.

Abstracts should be submitted by November 1st via the ACLA website. Information about the ACLA and seminar format can be found at the same site.

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