Special Issue of Amerikastudien / American Studies | Capitalist Crisis Poetry: Neoliberalism and the 21st Century Lyric

Deadline: March 1, 2022

– Special Issue: Amerikastudien | American Studies

 Call for Contributions: Original Lyric Poetry      

Capitalist Crisis Poetry:
Neoliberalism and the 21st Century Lyric

Editors: Stefan Benz (Universität Bonn), Marcel Hartwig (Universität Siegen), Hannah Schoch (Universität Zürich)

For this special journal issue to appear with Amerikastudien | American Studies, we are looking to diversify the contributions. Thus, we invite submissions of original lyric poetry: 1-3 original lyric poems per person; with a max. of 5 pages in total. Key selection criteria will be relevance to this issue’s topic and especially the two guiding questions, as well as overall diversity, coherence and fit with the other contributions. Please keep in mind that this is a printed journal, so there are limits to the multimedial possibilities and the work has to be submitted as a single-word file including a short bio-note. Deadline for submission: March 1st, 2022  


21st-century lyric poetry has resurged in popularity in diverse national and transnational contexts and intersects with many phenomena of contemporary popular culture as well as activist movements. Both lyric poetry and politics are interested in how the subject is structured and how it relates to others, society, the world at large, even if with very different trajectories. Neoliberalism, in contrast, has a primary interest in isolating the subject from fellow subjects as well as from any institutional responsibilities. Many of our contemporary political crises are the product of ‘Late Capitalism’ and what William Davies (2016) calls “punitive neoliberalism” (130). In this context, poetic practices might represent a creative, liberating force that can allow the subject to regain some autonomy. 

Addressing the link between politics, poetry, and capitalism, we ask how poetic language constitutes and gives space to subject categories that so far have been barred from existing in or are being (re)constrained by the symbolic order of current, late-capitalist political contexts. Or, in Audre Lorde’s (1977) words, how “[p]oetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought” (37). Rendered by an aesthetic that can undermine the established symbolic codes and rhythm of the given public discourse, poetry offers a formal outlet for a (different) articulation of rights, values, ideas for reform, expressions of identities, etc.  

While capitalism famously operates on both a local and a global scale, lyric poetry has only recently been described as a genre that is markedly both highly individual/regional/local and transnational and transhistorical (Culler 2015; Ramazani 2009, 2017, 2020; Hunter 2019). This reframing of the lyric genre, however, brings into view the link between the specificity of individual, subcultural, national, and transnational aesthetic production. It also makes tangible the historical and societal dimensions of meaning-making practices, attributed production value, and reception. Furthermore, we propose mobilizing the concept of lyricism as a way to not only draw into focus the aesthetic form of the poem – such as its rhythm, flow, diction –, but also to mark its interrelationship with other genres and media. Lyricism thus offers the analytic tools to grasp the effective and affective dynamics of poetic production and reception, as well as it marks the level on which the poem can resist simple classification and straightforward commodification. Thereby, we intend to contribute to lyric poetry’s re-theoretization that has occurred in the last few years to better describe the lyric and its cultural efficacy (cf. Konuk Blasing 2007, Culler 2015, Ramazani 2009, 2017, 2020).

 The contributions in this special issue, then, analyze the triangulation of poetry, politics, and neoliberal capitalism in the US while bearing in mind the trans- and international dimensions of this constellation in order to address:

  • how different forms of lyric poetry identifies, engages with, and intervenes in contemporary political crises triggered or exacerbated by neoliberal capitalism and how it shapes/transforms/resists political and capitalist discourse
  • how the crises induced by capitalism have spawned new poetic forms and strategies, and how poetry and lyricism is (or is not) looped back into capitalist practices

Please send your poems directly to the editors of the special issue:

Marcel Hartwig:         hartwig@anglistik.uni-siegen.de
Stefan Benz:               sbenz@uni-bonn.de
Hannah Schoch:         hannah.schoch@uzh.ch


Culler, Jonathan. Theory of the Lyric. Harvard UP, 2015.

Davies, William. “The Politics of Recognition in the Age of Social Media”. New Left Review, March/April, 2021, pp. 83-99.

––. “The New Neoliberalism”. New Left Review 101, September/October, 2016, 121-134.

Hunter, Walter. Forms of a World. Contemporary Poetry and the Making of Globalization. Forham UP, 2019.

Konuk Blasing, Mutlu. Lyric Poetry. The Pain and the Pleasure of Words. Princeton UP, 2007.

Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider. Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. The Crossing Press, 1984.

Ramazani, Jahan. Poetry in a Global Age. Chicago UP, 2020.

–––. Poetry and Its Others. Chicago UP, 2014.

–––. A Transnational Poetics. Chicago UP, 2009.