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Singing the World: Song in/as Literature
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A graduate conference sponsored by Yale University's Department of Comparative Literature. April 17–18, 2015.

4/17/2015 to 4/18/2015
When: 4/17/2015
Where: Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut 
United States

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Song is arguably the most ubiquitous of human art forms. Enjoyed in our most private moments, it is also the aesthetic experience that most effectively gathers us into collectives. Equally suited to the esoteric demands of high art as it is to the so-called "simple pleasures" of the popular, song belongs as much to the very young as to the very old, to the literate as to the illiterate, to the rich as to the poor. Of all the arts, it is perhaps the most deeply rooted in our respective national, ethnic, and cultural identities, yet it is at the same time the art most likely to transcend such boundaries. We live our entire lives immersed in song.

Yet song does not amount simply to the discursive content of its lyrics, nor to its purely musical setting. It is perhaps this irreducible quality of song, its defiance of traditional academic categorization that has led to its relative intellectual neglect. Though generally agreed to be the foundation of poetry, song rarely enjoys the same degree of critical attention. Though frequently punctuating both drama and narrative, its role in these literary forms goes for the most part unremarked. This conference seeks to redress this critical imbalance, and to begin to recognize the alluring hermeneutic complexities that the experience of song entails. As a convergence point for theoretical questions, literary traditions and artistic forms, song has the potential to open up new comparative approaches and modes of reading.

Lines of inquiry may include but are not limited to:
  • The nature and function of song
  • Song and subjectivity
  • Song and identity
  • Musicality in texts
  • The role of music in song
  • Subversion and revolution
  • Song and collectivity
  • The deployment of song in literary texts
  • The conversion of song into literary texts and vice versa
  • Translation of song and poetry
  • Genre and form
  • Oral and written traditions
  • Privacy and performativity

Please send a 250-word abstract by December 20th to

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