Till Dembeck

Literaturwissenschaft in Forschung und Lehre

Vers und Lyrik

Vers und Lyrik (2012)

The article provides a critical review of recent theories on lyric poetry, and then develops a new concept that describes what lyric poetry is, taking account of the rightly claimed conceptual incommensurability of this genre. The proposed concept of lyric poetry is historically specific, but has systematic consequences for genre theory in general. Lyric poetry is described as an evolutionary developing sequence rather then a set of texts – and the article claims that any genre should be described that way. The sequence, henceforward called lyric poetry, was constituted in the 18th century when a loosely connected bundle of versified forms became to be treated as one genre. Ever since, lyric poetry has participated in the self-programming of literature as an autonomous art. It develops by experimenting with forms of segmenting speech, making use of different levels of the linguistic structure. The re-description of lyric poetry finally leads to suggestions for a more nuanced and historically sensitive formal analysis of poems.