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Workshop | After Confession. The Lyric Subject in Modern and Contemporary Poetry

Nov 23, 2023 - Nov 24, 2023

Organised by Karen Leeder and Lea Schneider (FSGS/ project "AfterWords. Positioning German Poetry in the Twentieth Century and Beyond"), and Cornelia Ortlieb, project A Dialogue from Time to Time, Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies". 

"After Confession" starts with the smallest unit of lyric meaning, the I, and explores how the poem of the twentieth century and beyond contests the habitual consolidation of the lyric subject, from the mythopoetic authority of the modernist I to a conception of the voices of a poem in which the I is either absent or exists as a dynamic and almost self-sufficient construction, more concerned with the shapes it throws than any notion of authenticity. Such a playful performance of self or selves is doubly significant for a poet who also conceives of performance as a significant part of, or already inherent in, the text (like Ulrike Almut Sandig, who will be giving a poetic lecture performance as part of the workshop). But it also forces reflection on critical practices of reading and what we habitually understand when we see an I in a poem. 

A key area of interest is the relationship between (auto-)biography and the lyric subject: the growing preoccupation among modern and contemporary writers (notably, but not exclusively, female), who operate "after confession": that is "after" (in all senses) the still dominant understanding of modern poetry embodied by the greats of the Anglo-American tradition. This, however, also opens the door to alternative understandings of the motor of lyric production: areas such as voice or voice(s), listening, lying, eavesdropping, dialogue, and address. But it also suggests larger trajectories: the formation of the collective subject, phenomenology, the "event" (Jonathan Culler) of the poem itself. Equally it hints as the subject of "lyric violence" and the potentially coercive properties of an I, you or we in a poem. 

The workshop offers itself as an opportunity to interrogate the traditions of lyric authority and lyric voice, also seeking to understand how the I can be thought of in collective terms as part of shifting communities over time.


Thursday, 23 November 2023

14:00-16:00 | Jonathan Culler (Cornell University): Lyric Address and the Problem of Community (Open Seminar)

Location: Raum JK 33/121, Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule, Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerder Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

19:30 | Ulrike Almut Sandig (Poet, Berlin): MEDIUM: I AM

Location: Haus für Poesie, Knaackstr. 97 (Kulturbrauerei), 10435 Berlin

Friday, 24 November 2023

09:30 | Check-in

10:00 | Karen Leeder (University of Oxford): After Confession - An Introduction

10:30 | Johanna Schumm (LMU München): Mother, the Others and Me. The (Confessional) I in Contemporary Hispanoamerican Poetry

11:15 | Coffee Break

11:45 | Lea Schneider (Freie Universität Berlin): Heartbreak and Herkunft. Reclaiming the “I“ in Contemporary German Poetry

12:30 | Jonathan Culler (Cornell University, New York): Poet, Speaker, Subject: Sources of Lyric Expression

Time & Location

Nov 23, 2023 - Nov 24, 2023

Haus für Poesie
Knaackstraße 97
10435 Berlin

Further Information

The workshop will be held mostly in English, but questions and ideas from the audience in German are welcome. To allow us to plan accordingly for catering etc., and to distribute reading materials in advance, we kindly ask you to register for the event(s) at afterwords@fsgs.fu-berlin.de.