7 May 2020 7:30pm - 8:30pm ICI Berlin, Christinenstraße 18-19, 10119 Berlin, Germany


This session has been cancelled due to the lockdown. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Jonathan Culler (Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cornell)
Convened by Francesco Giusti (Berlin) (The Lyric in Theory: A conversation with Jonathan Culler)



Poetry, according to W.H. Auden, fundamentally is ‘memorable language’. From Sappho onwards, a defining feature of poetic language appears to be its repeatability. In his seminal Theory of the Lyric (2015), Jonathan Culler challenges Theodor W. Adorno’s claim that lyric poetry, in its utopian force, offers resistance to the language of commerce and alienation, as well as Jacques Rancière’s declaration that ‘[t]he poet belongs to politics as one who does not belong there, who ignores its customs and scatters its words.’ For Culler, the very fact that a lyric poem is meant to be repeated by different readers in a variety of contexts implies that it can be put to quite different uses and enlisted in conflicting ideological projects. On the other hand, poetry seems to play a peculiar role in French and French-oriented political philosophy, especially in reflections on community and community formation, exemplified in the famous exchange between Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy begun in the 1980s. This event will discuss the possible relationships between lyric and society, and question whether lyric poetry could contribute, if not to the reformation of society, at least to the formation of (albeit resistant, minority) communities based on the re-enactment of particular poems.

An event organised by 'Re-' Interdisciplinary Network in cooperation with ICI Berlin Institute for Critical Inquiry.

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