Conferencia 'The pragmatics of poetic difficulty' con Davide Castiglione

El día miércoles 14 de octubre, a las 11.30 horas, se realizará la conferencia "The pragmatics of poetic difficulty: from processing baselines to the dismantling of expectations” con Davide Castiglione, de Vilnius University, Lituania. Invita: Facultad de Letras UC. Organiza: Profesor Eric Rundquist, de Letras UC. Actividad abierta y gratuita vía Zoom. Esperamos contar con su presencia.

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The pragmatics of poetic difficulty: from processing baselines to the dismantling of expectations

Davide Castiglione, Vilnius University

One of the criticisms most often levelled at poetry is that it is 'difficult'. When readers express such a complaint, they more or less consciously imply that the high amount of energy they put into the reading of a text yields very few aesthetic rewards. How does this negotiation between readerly expectations and challenging textual-conceptual structures unfold?

In this talk, I'll try to answer this question by drawing on my own model of difficulty (Castiglione 2019). In this model, which draws on various frameworks (notably, Relevance Theory, Schema Theory and Systemic-Functional Grammar), many types of difficulty can be generated by the interplay between certain textual-linguistic features and the cognitive dimensions they mostly affect. For instance, repetition typically enhances readability, but it can also thwart interpretability (as in Gertrude Stein's 'a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose').

The model will be selectively applied to poems with various degrees of difficulty. These include John Betjeman's and Billy Collins' popular poems, which meet readerly expectations in full and can therefore be taken as processing baselines; and Charles Bernstein's and Jeremy Prynne's poems, which go as far as to renounce textual well-formedness and markers of poeticity altogether.


Biodata Davide Castiglione is assistant professor in the Department of English Philology at Vilnius University, where he teaches courses in linguistics, poetry and creative writing. Since September 2020 he is also a postdoctoral fellow at the same university, working on developing an analytical model of poetic imagery. His area of expertise is the stylistics and poetics of poetry. He is author of the monograph Difficulty in Poetry: a Stylistic Model (Palgrave 2019) and various articles in international journals, including Language and Literature and Journal of Literary Semantics. His research brings together literary theory, linguistics, cognitive science, aesthetics and empirical methods. He is also the author of two poetry collections in Italian and a reviewer of contemporary Italian poetry for various lit-blogs.

Davide Castiglione