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CFP: The Ecology of Meter: Meter and Language – Meter and Literature

Monday, June 22, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Hannah Davis
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Metrics is sometimes described as discipline run by people who spend their lives counting syllables. Nothing could be farther from truth – poetic meters do not exist in a mathematical vacuum, and knowing the number of syllables, feet etc. per line rarely equals knowing what a given meter is and how it works. Meter is a creative tool that shapes, and is shaped by, language (John Miles Foley used to talk about “trademark symbiosis between metre and language”), tradition, textual and social environments, as well as other co-existing meters and ultimately the people who use, abuse and transmit texts composed in it. The combined action of these factors, seemingly extra-metrical, constitutes in fact what we would like to call the ecologly of meter. Meter is a living thing of language(s) and literature(s) that depends on this ecology as much as the poetry itself; the two, consequently, can (and should) be approached from a variety of angles and studied by a variety of methods that touch upon and connect different aspects of a meter’s ecology.

We would thus like to shed the dry image of metrics as a field of study and address the ecology of various meters in various traditions in a special issue of RMN Newsletter, the international open-access bi-annual publication of the Department of Folklore Studies, University of Helsinki (ISSN 2324-0636 print, ISSN 1799-4497 electronic). Our publication promotes cross-disciplinary discussion on diachronic, comparative and source-critical treatments of cultural expression across diverse and intersecting disciplines.

The special issue on meter ecology calls for both research articles (up to 15 pages + works cited) and reviews (up to 7 pages + works cited). The research articles will be peer reviewed. We are pleased to invite articles treating various poetic sources in various languages on themes such as:

The symbiotics of meter and language

 - Which linguistic features of a given language are used as the basis of a meter?

 - Which linguistic features are ignored?

 - Which are affected or altered by metrical use?


Systems of meters in a given tradition

 - What are the differences, similarities and interactions of different meters in a given linguistic, social or cultural environment?

The meaningfulness of meter and metricality

 - What is the social significance of metrical versus non-metrical discourse?

 - Do certain meters have connotative, iconic or other significance in language use?

 - How does the evolution of multiple meters interface with a social semiotic of poetic expression?

 - How is the meaning potential of meter affected by context?

Meters on the move

 - What happens when a meter devised in one language is used to compose texts in another language?

 - What happens when a meter is more generally adapted to a new ecology?

Meters across the time – the evolution of meters

 - How does linguistic change affect, or not affect, a meter?

 - What are outcomes of attempts to compose new texts in ‘old’ or ‘ancient’ traditional meters that have ceased to be productive?

 - What happens in metrical ‘revivals’ or metrics in the revival of broader traditions?

Contexts and variation in practice

 - How does meter or its perception vary in ‘oral’ versus ‘written’ discourses?

 - Can social context affect metrical variation?

 - How do meter and metrical features vary by genre, and why?

Relationships between meter and techniques of composition

 - How does the symbiosis of a traditional meter and language evolve resources for producing metrically well-formed lines?

 - How do compositional techniques and resources reciprocally relate to or affect a meter?

 - How do such techniques function in relation to meter?

These and other relevant themes may be discussed through narrow case studies or broader comparative investigations. Emphasis may be empirically oriented or give primary attention to the development of methods or theory.

If you are interested in participating in this international and cross-disciplinary discussion, please submit a 500 word abstract of your proposed contribution, with your name, affiliation and contact information to guest editor Ilya Sverdlov at snerrir[at]

The deadline for paper proposals is 1st July 2015. The deadline for completed paper submission is Monday, 31st August 2015.

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