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"After Confession. The Lyric Subject in Modern and Contemporary Poetry", Workshop in Kollaboration mit EXC 2020 Temporal Communities, Research Area 4: "A Dialogue from Time to Time. Translation and Literary Multilingualism"

23.11.2023 - 24.11.2023
After Confession

After Confession
Bildquelle: © Hanna Zeckau

We would like to thank all the participants in the After Confession workshop for the many inspiring discussions and encounters. If you took part in some or all of the workshop events, we would be grateful if you could send us your feedback and impressions here.

Note: The workshop will be held mostly in English, but questions and ideas from the audience in German are welcome. To allow us to plan accordingly for catering etc., and to distribute reading materials in advance, we kindly ask you to register for the event(s) at afterwords@fsgs.fu-berlin.de

After Confession starts with the smallest unit of lyric meaning, the I, and explores how the poem of the twentieth century and beyond contests the habitual consolidation of the lyric subject, from the mythopoetic authority of the modernist I to a conception of the voices of a poem in which the I is either absent or exists as a dynamic and almost self-sufficient construction, more concerned with the shapes it throws than any notion of authenticity. Such a playful performance of self or selves is doubly significant for a poet who also conceives of performance as a significant part of, or already inherent in, the text (like Ulrike Almut Sandig, who will be giving a poetic lecture performance as part of the workshop). But it also forces reflection on critical practices of reading and what we habitually understand when we see an I in a poem. 

A key area of interest is the relationship between (auto-)biography and the lyric subject: the growing preoccupation among modern and contemporary writers (notably, but not exclusively, female), who operate “after confession”: that is “after” (in all senses) the still dominant understanding of modern poetry embodied by the greats of the Anglo-American tradition. This, however, also opens the door to alternative understandings of the motor of lyric production: areas such as voice or voice(s), listening, lying, eavesdropping, dialogue, and address. But it also suggests larger trajectories: the formation of the collective subject, phenomenology, the “event” (Jonathan Culler) of the poem itself. Equally it hints as the subject of “lyric violence” and the potentially coercive properties of an I, you or we in a poem. 

The workshop offers itself as an opportunity to interrogate the traditions of lyric authority and lyric voice, also seeking to understand how the I can be thought of in collective terms as part of shifting communities over time.


Thursday, 23 November


Jonathan Culler (Cornell University): Lyric Address and the Problem of Community

Open Seminar

Location: Raum JK 33/121, Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule, Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin


Ulrike Almut Sandig (Poet, Berlin): MEDIUM: I AM

Lecture Performance für Poesie, Film und Overhead-Projektor

Location: Haus für Poesie, Knaackstr. 97 (Kulturbrauerei), 10435 Berlin

Friday, 24 November




Karen Leeder (University of Oxford): After Confession: An Introduction



Johanna Schumm (LMU München): Mother, the Others and Me. The (Confessional) I in Contemporary Hispanoamerican Poetry



Coffee Break



Lea Schneider (FU Berlin): Heartbreak and Herkunft. Reclaiming the “I“ in Contemporary German Poetry



Jonathan Culler (Cornell University): Poet, Speaker, Subject: Sources of Lyric Expression


Location: Haus für Poesie, Knaackstr. 97 (Kulturbrauerei), 10435 Berlin

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