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Dr Cornelia Grabner


Cornelia Grabner

Confucious Institute



Tel: +44 1524 593006

Research overview

Cornelia researches on poetry and the public, and on poetic language and grassroots and activist politics. She focuses on the Poetics of Resistance and contemporary committed writing, and on the poetic word in its spoken and conversational manifestations. Her research is comparative on Western Europe and the Americas.

Further lines of research include the poetic word in resistance to neoliberal capitalism in cities and urban areas; politically committed performance poetry collectives; and non-lyric poetic imaginaries throughout the 20th and 21st century. She holds a specialist interest in Mexican committed writing from the 1970s to the present.

PhD supervision

performance poetry; literature, social movements and the public sphere; comparative literary studies; contemporary Latin American literature Proposals may take a comparative approach or may focus on the literature of particular countries.

Additional Information

I explore and analyze contemporary culture and the poetic word through several angles: contemporary committed writing from Europe and the Americas, whereby 'committed' refers to the commitment to the resistance to patriarchy, racism, imperialism, colonialism and capitalism, and to building of anti-patriarcal, anti-imperialist and decolonial alternatives to capitalism; spoken and written expressions of the poetic imagination in the spirit of high-intensity democracy and emergent non-capitalist, anti-patriarchal and decolonial alternatives to the status quo; alternative ways of conversationally articulating knowledge, analysis and critical thinking; and a critique of some of the cultural imaginaries that are obstacles to transformation in the spirit indicated above.

Acquiescent Imaginaries

One constitutive feature of contemporary ‘low-intensity democracies’ (Boaventura de Sousa Santos) are acquiescent imaginaries. Through close cultural analyses of three elements of acquiescent imaginaries – codes of silence, the normalization of violent transgressions, and the discreditation of uprisings and alternatives against the status quo – it exposes how acquiescence is turned into a cultural feature of many contemporary societies, thus contributing to de-politicization and social de-sensitization. The analyses draw on a variety of material from the cultural sphere, including literary works, investigative and literary journalism, public events and actions, and documentary material.


This line of research is funded by the Leverhulme Trust in the form of a Research Fellowship.

Committed Writing, Spoken Word Poetry, and the Poetic Word

‘The poetic word’ as a category serves as an alternative to ‘literature’, to account for the world-making force of the verbal imagination beyond and outside of traditional and emergent cultural hierarchies. It may be articulated by one speaker or by a collective voice, written or spoken. It can be part of performance or spoken word poetry, of prose genres like the novel or the essay, and it is usually non-lyrical and interacts with a context, for example the escalation of neoliberal violence

Poetry and Politics

"Contemporary Poetry and Politics: Research on Contemporary Relations between Cultural Production and Sociopolitical Context (POEPOLIT)" is a research project funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitively of the Spanish Government (FFI2016-77584-P, 2016-2019).
The POEPOLIT project aims to systematically examine the political character of a variety of contemporary poetic expressions from the Western World. Based on textual analyses as well as analyses of intermedial phenomena, the key research questions will be, among others: Is an aesthetically complex poetry less likely to have a political impact than a more popular poetry? Should poets and their works be more clearly recognized as political agents of a specific vision or epistemology? Which is their influence on society today, and provided that they do have an influence, does society recognize it? Which could the implicit results and risks of a poetry that is described as apolitical or ‘separate’ from society? How can the current horizons of 'politics' be expanded through new poetic and analytical languages?
The main theoretical objective is to probe the effectiveness and applicability of the notion of the political in the context of an analysis of contemporary poetry based on the variety of contemporary theoretical proposals and perspectives that directly equate poetry with politics or gradually approximate both from diverse perspectives and methods. A second theoretical objective consists in integrating the perspectives of contemporary non-lyrical poetry, its relation with the public space and its sociopolitical context.
See https://poepolit.blogspot.nl/p/poepolit.html

Poetics of Resistance

The ‘Poetics of Resistance’ developed out of a research network of the same name. They are an anti-hierarchical methodology that builds ‘literacies of resistances’ and critically intervenes against repression and contempt. The Poetics of Resistance require a constant critical consideration of the locus of enunciation of the speaker and the power dynamics that inform their relationship with their interlocutors.

For a special issue on 'Poetics of Resistance', edited together with David Wood, see <http://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/issue/view/10>

For an ongoing blog project see https://wordpress.poeticsofresistance.com

The Poetic Word in the Neoliberal City

Living in Manchester sensitized me to the complex experience of those palimpsesistc cities were the industrial, the post-industrial and the neoliberal co-exist in an everyday experience which often does not function according to a linear sense of temporality. From this emerges a complex urban poeticity that interweaves past and present. The complexity of this experience is often de-recognized by, or falls by the wayside of a rhetoric of linear progress. I seek to expose the intersections between the disdain with which sectors of the urban population and elements of urban culture are regarded by those in (cultural and / or political) power, and the complicity of such disdain with urban (cultural or territorial) dispossession.

See the blog Poetics of Resistance (https://wordpress.poeticsofresistance.com) for a series of papers on this subject matter, co-edited by Ilka Kressner, Anne Shea, and myself.

Additional Information

I'm a Board Member of the charity Music for Hope and an Associate Member of the Amsterdam Center for Globalisation Studies ACGS.

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