Rhythm: Form and Dispossession

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University of Chicago Press, 2020 - Rhythm - 216 pages
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"Vincent Barletta traces an alternate history of rhythm theory, one linked not to repetition and temporality, as most of us understand the term, but rather to form, ethics, and the conditions of (human) being. Beginning with Archilochus, the Greek seventh-century BCE poet who wanted to know the "rhythm that holds us all," Barletta explores what we mean when we talk about "rhythm," how and to what extent we can know it, and what Archilochus's idea that rhythm "holds us all" might mean for us today. Barletta identifies three key "moments" in the long and varied history of rhythm to uncover their deeper implications for poetry, art, and philosophy. Beginning with the earliest, most explicit formulation of the meaning of rhythm in the dramatic, philosophical, and poetic works of the pre-Socratic Greeks, Barletta then links this early understanding of rhythm to the emergence of vernacular poetry, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, in the sixteenth century during the European quest for overseas empires. He brings his study into the twentieth century, where echoes of Archilochus's notion of rhythm have shaped much African, European, and Anglo-American thought, especially John Dewey and Emmanuel Levinas on aesthetics and ethics, ‚Emile Benveniste on philology and rhythm, and L‚eopold S‚edar Senghor on rhythm in the context of West African thought and the "N‚egritude" movement. Ultimately, the common thread that runs through these three historical moments, Barletta shows, is an approach to rhythm that transcends poetry, aesthetics, and even temporality. For Barletta, rhythm is a powerful force that holds us in place and shapes the very foundations upon which we and our contemporary world ultimately rest. "Rhythm speaks," he says, "to the very conditions of our being in the world." This study participates in the recent return to formalism in literary studies, and will find readers in a number of other areas, comparative literature, reception of classical poetry, and philosophy and literature, among them"--

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1 Rivers Stopped or Flowing Backward
2 Harmony Number and Others
3 TwentiethCentury Measures
Subject Index
Index Verborum

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About the author (2020)

Vincent Barletta is associate professor of comparative literature and Iberian and Latin American cultures at Stanford University. He is the author of Death in Babylon: Alexander the Great and Iberian Empire in the Muslim Orient and Covert Gestures: Crypto-Islamic Literature as Cultural Practice in Early Modern Spain.

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