Silence is golden?

Silence is golden? Language, Ineffability and Spirituality in Modernist Poetry

Diego Terzano (Università di Pisa), Bart Van den Bossche (KU Leuven)

Over the past two decades, many scholars across the humanities have approached silence as a philosophical and aesthetic notion (see Loevlie 2003; Mortara Garavelli 2015) and have analysed it as a pragmatic form of violence (Olsson 2013), a meaningful form of negativity (Wolf-Bernhart, eds,2016), or an indirect or eloquent discourse (Bindeman 2017; Gould 2018). Inspired by these and other contemporary approaches, this panel aims to focus on the manifold roles and manifestations of silence in poetry of the modernist period. More in particular, the panel intends to address the crisis of denotative language in poetry since the late nineteenth century, modernist poetry’s metalinguistic stance, and the connections between silence, ineffability, and spirituality (with the paradoxical condition of eloquent absence or silent wholeness). Topics to be treated may include (but are not limited to): 1) poetic evocations, representations and discussions of silence; 2) aposiopesis (interruption), reticence, and other figures of speech; 3) silence and formal features (blank spaces, typography,…); 4) the treatment of the limits of language, particularly of denotative language; 5) the debate about “pure” or “abstract” poetry.

Interested scholars are invited to send their proposal, including a short bio and 300-word abstract, to by 15 February 2023. The proposal must include the title of both the individual paper and the panel session.