“Who’s Speaking? Poetry readings and recording technologies since 1980.” – Peter Middleton (University of Southampton) – LISTEN Seminar

Posted on February 23, 2022

23 February 2022 - 17 h 30 min - 19 h 30 min


Please join us on Wednesday 23 February for a talk by Prof. Peter Middleton at 5:30 pm (CET [Paris time]), 4:30 GMT, 11:30 ET, 8:30 (PT).

Please request the zoom link from 

In Distant Reading: Performance, Readership, and Consumption in Contemporary Poetry (2005*), Peter Middleton made an early and important contribution to the scholarship on poetry performance. The recent publication of Expanded Authorship (2021), his new collection of essays revisiting the issue of sound, prompted us to invite Peter Middleton to look back over his research in this field, and assess how both the poetry reading and techniques of analysis evolved over the past decades

Abstract: This talk will start with the four topoi I formulated in my early research on poetry performance: staging, authorship, sound, and intersubjectivity. With the help of poetry recordings, I will outline the reasoning behind my original analysis, and then discuss features of the oral poetry archive that fall outside their scope. In the second part of the talk I shall reflect on two issues that concern me today: the justification for prioritising authors reading their own poems; and the significance of sonic traces of disability in certain recordings. 

Respondent: Bastien Goursaud (UPEC)

Peter Middleton is an emeritus professor in the Department of English at the University of Southampton. He is the author and editor of several books, including Distant Reading: Performance, Readership, and Consumption in Contemporary Poetry (Alabama, 2005), Physics Envy: American Poetry and Science in the Cold War and After (Chicago, 2015)and, most recently, Expanding Authorship: Transformations in American Poetry Since 1950 (University of New Mexico Press, 2021). He is currently writing a book on the genealogy of the code concept.

* Note: The two essays on poetry performance in Distant Reading were published separately some years earlier, in slightly different forms:

“The Contemporary Poetry Reading.” In: Charles Bernstein Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 262-299. 

“Poetry’s Oral Stage.” In: Ivan Gaskell and Salim Kemal eds. Performance and Authenticity in the ArtsCambridge Studies in Philosophy and the Arts. Cambridge University Press, 1999: 154-186.


LISTEN Seminar

An inter-university seminar, LISTEN brings together researchers in the humanities who study objects or practices involving sound or consider phenomena from an audile perspective: podcasts, audio books, radioliterature, performed poetry, slam, spoken word, sound arts, opera, audiovisual archives of literature, representation of sound and hearing in literature, soundscapes, paleophony… One of its aims is to devise methodological approaches for these objects which are made possible by the technologies of sound recording and reproduction and/or existing at the borders of literature, the performing arts, media studies and history of techniques and mentalities. Held in French or English, the seminar sessions are devoted to collective listening, sharing of methodologies and tools, scientific watch and the theoretical issues raised by sound objects and phenomena.

Hypothèse blog:



The seminar is conducted by Abigail Lang,  Ella Waldmann and Bastien Goursaud.



Related axis:


Program 2021-2022:

The LISTEN seminar will take place online or in a hybrid format, preferably on Wednesdays from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm.