A Conversation with Derek Attridge - "The Experience of Poetry"

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Derek Attridge

Derek Attridge will discuss his book, The Experience of Poetry: From Homer's Listeners to Shakespeare's Readers. He will be joined by discussants Sarah Nooter, Rosanna Warren, and Timothy Harrison.

Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago Program in Poetry and Poetics

Virtual Event


About the book: Was the experience of poetry--or a cultural practice we now call poetry--continuously available across the two-and-a-half millennia from the composition of the Homeric epics to the publication of Ben Jonson's Works and the death of Shakespeare in 1616? How did the pleasure afforded by the crafting of language into memorable and moving rhythmic forms play a part in the lives of hearers and readers in Ancient Greece and Rome, Europe during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and Britain during the Renaissance?

In tackling these questions, this book first examines the evidence for the performance of the Iliad and the Odyssey and of Ancient Greek lyric poetry, the impact of the invention of writing on Alexandrian verse, the performances of poetry that characterized Ancient Rome, and the private and public venues for poetic experience in Late Antiquity. It moves on to deal with medieval verse, exploring the oral traditions that spread across Europe in the vernacular languages, the place of manuscript transmission, the shift from roll to codex and from papyrus to parchment, and the changing audiences for poetry. A final part investigates the experience of poetry in the English Renaissance, from the manuscript verse of Henry VIII's court to the anthologies and collections of the late Elizabethan era. Among the topics considered in this part are the importance of the printed page, the continuing significance of manuscript circulation, the performance of poetry in pageants and progresses, and the appearance of poets on the Elizabethan stage. In tracking both continuity and change across these many centuries, the book throws fresh light on the role and importance of poetry in western culture.

About the author: Derek Attridge obtained degrees from the Universities of Natal and Cambridge and he taught at Southampton, Strathclyde, and Rutgers Universities before moving to the University of York, where is he Emeritus Professor of English and Related Literature. He is the author or co-author of fifteen books on poetic form, literary theory, and South African and Irish literature, and has edited or co-edited eleven collections on similar topics. He has held fellowships or visiting professorships in the USA, South Africa, France, Italy, Egypt, and Australia and he is a Fellow of the British Academy.

About Sarah Nooter: Sarah Nooter is a Professor of Classics and Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago. She is the author of When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy and The Mortal Voice in the Tragedies of Aeschylus. She also co-edited Sound and the Ancient Senses, with Shane Butler, and is the editor in chief of Classical Philology. She is now finishing a book which explores modes of embodiment and temporality in ancient Greek poetry and song.

About Rosanna Warren: Rosanna Warren teaches at the University of Chicago. She is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Departure (2003), Ghost in a Red Hat (2011), and So Forth (2020). She has published a book of literary criticism and edited a volume of essays about translation, and has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, The American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New England Poetry Club, among others.

About Timothy Harrison: Timothy M. Harrison is the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Assistant Professor of Renaissance and Early Modern English Literature in the Department of English Language and Literature and the College at the University of Chicago, where he also directs the undergraduate program in Renaissance Studies. He is the author of Coming To: Consciousness and Natality in Early Modern England. He also has published articles on Montaigne, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, and Traherne in publications including English Literary RenaissanceModern Philology, and Milton Studies.

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