THEORY OF THE LYRIC
English and Comparative Literature
reception to follow
Jonathan Culler, a leading expositor of contemporary literary theory, takes an inductive approach to the tradition of lyric poetry by examining some of the most canonical lyrics of the Western tradition, from Sappho to Ashbery. He thereby contests the two primary models of the lyric: the romantic model of the lyric as expression of the poet's subjective experience and the now pedagogically dominant model of the lyric as dramatic monologue, the utterance of a speaker character. What are the most salient structural features of lyrics that need to be considered in the development of a more capacious and historically perspicuous theory of the lyric?