In this Book
- Critical Rhythm: The Poetics of a Literary Life Form
- Published by: Fordham University Press
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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
Table of Contents
- pp. v-viii
- pp. 1-18
- Rhythm’s Critiques
- Why Rhythm?
- pp. 21-39
- What Is Called Rhythm?
- pp. 40-59
- Sordello’s Pristine Pulpiness
- pp. 60-84
- Body, Throng, Race
- Beat and Count
- The Rhythms of the English Dolnik
- pp. 153-173
- How to Find Rhythm on a Piece of Paper
- pp. 174-196
- Picturing Rhythm
- pp. 197-220
- Fictions of Rhythm
- Sapphic Stanzas: How Can We Read the Rhythm?
- pp. 247-273
- Rhythm and Affect in “Christabel”
- pp. 274-296
- pp. 297-298
- List of Contributors
- pp. 299-302
- pp. 303-310