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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Cosmopoetics: Mediating a New World Poetics

8th September 2010, 09:00 to 10th September 2010, 17:00, St. John's College

Keynote speakers include Derek Attridge (York), Stephen Bann (Bristol), Michael Davidson (University of California, San Diego), Frank Lentricchia (Duke).

About Cosmopoetics

Cosmopoetics aims to expose an important aperture in contemporary poetry and poetics. Departing from the significant ground gained in late twentieth century poetic avant-gardism, Cosmopoetics takes up the difficult task of defining a twenty-first century poetics. Neither utopian nor dystopian, Cosmopoetics directs itself towards thinking a poetic atopia, a poetic interval within which the multiple currents of communication, mediation and influence mix; poetics as a particular border-crossing, trans-linguistic, socio-economic phenomenon. It is simultaneously sensitive to cultural and natural concepts of world or cosmos, and individual and aesthetic concepts of poesis, or the production of poetry, and seeks to re-centre contemporary poetry in its mediating capacity, as bridge between the singular and the universal, the local and the global, the creative and the critical. Michael Davidson speaks of the North American Free Trade Agreement as having created “a form of unheimlich reality through which subjects are produced and economic displacement is lived”. He sees the literary upshot of this is a community which operates cosmopoetically, “across national borders and cultural agendas”. Cosmopoetics amplifies the prospect of a cosmopolitics: “Cosmos protects against the premature closure of politics and politics against the premature closure of cosmos”, in the words of Bruno Latour. At the intersection of poetic form and formation, Cosmopoetics investigates the immediate forces of mediation – poetry as medium and mediator - between otherwise heterogenous ideas and concepts. We hope that the conference will reveal some of the many ways in which contemporary poetry and poetics still has a significant role to play in forging both new worlds and new ways of relating to existing paradigms of "cosmos". As Franco Moretti wrote, “The literature around us is now unmissably a planetary system”. In this light, we propose to explore the manner in which poetry, whether by design or accident, is also capable of revealing the contemporary as an atopian paradigm, a space sans frontières, or of non-spaces which simultaneously reflects upon and makes possible the reconsideration of poetic or generative force.

Call for Papers

Proposals are welcomed in (but not restricted to) the following areas:

Innovations and trends in c.21st poetry and poetics
Cosmopoetics and Cosmopolitics
Poetry as mediation
Communicative poetic force
Poetic atopia or cosmos
The space of poetry
Poetry and ‘World Literature’
Digital / Print culture
Poetic form today
New media poetics
Poetry between the local and the global
Relocation / dislocation of resistance
Writing across / without borders

Please send proposals of c.300 words to Marc Botha and Heather Yeung at:

This conference is being made possible by the support of the Faculty of Humanities, Department of English Studies, the Centre for Poetry and Poetics, the Institute of Advanced Study and the Graduate School of Durham University 


We are extremely pleased to be able to announce the participation of Patricia Waugh, Gareth Reeves, Michael O’Neill and Stephen Regan of Durham University; visual artist and poet, Alec Finlay and conceptual poet Ira Lightman. 

The conference will also include an art exhibition and performance of contemporary new music, pressing the boundaries between disciplines and the poetic generation of sonic, visual and conceptual worlds. 

In addition to proposals of 300 words for papers of 20 minutes, we would like to invite proposals of up to 500 for panels of three papers on the themes listed above.

Contact for more information about this event.

Related Links


Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies


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