Conference: Historical Poetics: Past, Present and Future, May 20-21

May 20-21st

Historical Poetics: Past, Present and Future


This spring CEERES will co-sponsor the conference “Historical Poetics: Past, Present and Future.” Organized by Profs. Boris Maslov (UofC), Lina Steiner (UofC) and Michael Kunichika (NYU), the conference is intended as a forum in which to reflect upon the methodological potential of Historical Poetics in the wake of New Historicism.

Since the mid-1980s, the intersections of history and the arts have provided a focal point for much exciting work in the Humanities, often identified with New Historicism. At a time of the sustained deployment of historical approaches to the study of the arts, our conference will seek to supplement the new-historicist emphasis on the proximate sociocultural and political context with attention to phenomena that belong to the longue durée of literary history and history of art, such as the formation and evolution of devices, genres, styles, artistic systems and literary fields.

These issues lie at the center of Historical Poetics – an approach to literary history and the history of culture pioneered by Alexander Veselovsky (1838-1906) that has supplied the theoretical basis for the work of major 20th c. Russian literary theorists and historians, including Viktor Shklovsky, Mikhail Bakhtin, Olga Freidenberg, and Mikhail  L. Gasparov.

In particular, the symposium will consider several theoretical hypotheses: that literary form is often central to maintaining and disseminating cultural meaning in space and time; that literary-historical inquiry contains a possible synthesis for contextualist approaches and those which are predicated on the immanence of literary phenomena; and lastly, that a historically grounded theoretical approach to literary praxis may productively engage with a set of questions which other methods (such as aesthetics, Marxism, and psychoanalysis) have sought to answer in universalist terms.

The conference will take place at the University of Chicago, from May 20-21, 2011. For more details please see the conference website:

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