Critical approaches to experimental poetry
Lopez-Fernandez, L. (2014). Critical approaches to experimental poetry. Presented at the The First Brussels International Underground Poetry Festival, Brussels, Belgium.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11686
There are many possible approaches that we can use to study current and historical experimental poetic practices. Some relevant frameworks of study include different schools of thought such as structuralism and linguistic theories of the sign, verbal and visual semiotics, gestalt theories and visual thinking, media and materiality, intermedia and intermediality studies, typographic and visual cultures, and frame semantics and embodied cognition. All these theories contribute in their particular way to the process of meaning even if sometimes their basic tenets conflict among each other. When reading or decoding an experimental poem we can use more than one approach but we also need to take into account that theoretical frameworks are not fixed and evolve through time and also some scholars can be part of different schools of thought such as Roland Barthes who worked on structuralism and also developed post-structuralist concepts. Since these theories evolve and their basic tenets tend to be reinterpreted through time we have to select the more useful aspects of each school. Structuralism has developed solid tools of analysis. Semiotics has been developed as well (verbal, visual). Media theorists and theorists of the technosphere are also contributing to an expanded notion of the media, text and the sign (ref. McLuhan, Kittler, Hayles, and others). Another relevant aspect that may be useful to include in an analysis of experimental poems is the artists’ writings about (intermedia) art. Many of them have advanced theoretical positions that are being considered systematically by scholars (ie., Charles Olson, Dick Higgins, Eduardo Kac) in the field of cognition, media studies, and embodiment.