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Tilling Words: The Georgic Mode in Modern and Contemporary British and Irish Poetry (Panel) (NeMLA)

Boston, MA
Organization: Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
Event: NeMLA
Categories: 20th & 21st Century, Poetry, Classical Studies, Environmental Studies
Event Date: 2024-03-07 to 2024-03-10 Abstract Due: 2023-09-30

SURPLUS is the keyword for 2024 NeMLA convention for critical and creative work that, in addition to the commonly associated meanings of profit and value, can be more broadly construed as excess or excessive, as surfeit, or what is leftover, or unwanted.

The georgic genre seems to have become all but surplus since in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The georgic mode takes its name from Virgil’s Georgics (29 BCE), which celebrates the dignity of rural labor and its difficult daily reality. While John Dryden praises Virgil’s Georgics as “the best poem by the best poet,” the georgic as a genre seems to decline in relevance in the twentieth century as rural, agricultural labor recedes from view. In a recent collection on the history of English georgic writing edited by Paddy Bullard, Juan Christian Pellicer sees Vita Sackville-West’s The Land (1926) and The Garden (1946) as “the twentieth-century’s sole exemplars of Vigilian formal georgic,” and Jack Thacker argues the georgic survives in “rags and tatters,” in implicit and accidental forms in poets such as Geoffrey Hill and Alice Oswald. Has the georgic mode become passé, therefore surplus, along with the decline of rural, agrarian economy, or does the georgic continue to possess “analytical power and relevance,” as Andrew Radford puts it, in the age of urbanization, industrialization, and capitalist accumulation? What is left of the georgic in modern and contemporary poetry, and what is added as the georgic mix with adjacent genres?

This panel offers a unique opportunity to explore the continuing significance of the often-neglected georgic mode in English poetry. We invite papers that examine the ways in which modern and contemporary British and Irish poets engage with the georgic mode while adapting it to suit their own poetic aims and agendas. We welcome proposals that examine the georgic mode as it relates to topics including but not limited to labor, politics, gender, environmental justice, and poetic labor in a capitalist, industrial, and digital age.

Please submit a 200-300 word abstract and a short bio through the NeMLA online portal: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/CFP. Abstracts are accepted now through Sep 30, 2023. (Membership is not required to submit abstracts.)

For more information on submitting an abstract online, see http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention/callforpapers.html

For questions about the panel, please contact Yifan Zhang (yifan_zhang1@baylor.edu). 



Yifan Zhang