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Poetry Off the Page: Literary History and the Spoken Word, 1965-2020

Project description

Transnational aspects of poetry performance

Poetry performance overturns the traditional distinction between text and context in literary studies. The EU-funded POETRY OFF THE PAGE project will propose an alternative approach to 1965-2020 literary history by shifting the focus from the written to the spoken word. The project will advance an innovative interdisciplinary methodology to study the oral performance of poetry and establish poetry performance research as a global discipline. POETRY OFF THE PAGE will investigate how spoken word poetry’s semantics of presence and embodiment have influenced the meaning and functions of poetry on the national and international levels. The project will apply archival research, close listening and viewing aided by digital humanities tools, and qualitative interviews with performance practitioners.

Objective

Poetry Off the Page (PoP) will reveal an alternative ‘literary’ history of the period 1965-2020 by shifting the focus from the written to the spoken word. It will launch a new interdisciplinary methodology for studying poetry’s oral mode and firmly establish poetry performance research as a global discipline. Its central question is how spoken-word poetry’s semantics of presence and embodiment have shaped the “meaning” and functions of poetry, within and across national boundaries. PoP acknowledges that poetry performance upsets the traditional text/context distinction of literary studies. Embracing a double focus on the aesthetics of spoken word and the institutional and media infrastructures in which poetry performance has thrived, PoP will capture the formal innovations and cultural work of poetry performance, its functions as a form of public address, as well as its relation to received literary history (e.g. “de-colonising” and “gendering” the canon). Moreover, the project will highlight the much-neglected transnational aspects of oral performance that are of vital significance especially with regard to emerging communications technologies and postcolonial positionalities. More broadly, PoP critically investigates the role of orality in literate cultures at the crossroads of self-performance, community-building, and their technological mediation.
The three methodological pillars of the PoP project are archival research, close listening/viewing aided by digital humanities tools, and qualitative interviews with performance practitioners (poets, spoken-word agents, programmers, producers). On the meta-level, we will create a sophisticated theoretical and methodological framework for interpreting our findings – informed by disciplines such as sound studies, persona studies, life-writing studies, and performance studies, and including sociological constellation analysis and Actor-Network Theory – so as to lay a sound foundation for future scholarship in this field.

Host institution

UNIVERSITAT WIEN
Net EU contribution
€ 1 871 395,00
Address
UNIVERSITATSRING 1
1010 Wien
Austria

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Region
Ostösterreich Wien Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
€ 1 871 395,00

Beneficiaries (2)