Studying literature and philosophy throughout my first years at Concordia, I always wondered if there was a crossover between these two ways of analyzing and describing the world. One that uses the toolkit from literary criticism, but also takes advantage of the detailed philosophical method of conceptualization in the analysis of literature, culture, and all forces at play within a text. It was after some time that I discovered critical theory and its importance as a bridge connecting literary theory, philosophy and other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Shortly after taking up critical theory seriously, I was digging into critiques of language, symbolism, communication, and social construction; and applying it to modernist literature and the philosophical canon from previous courses. But then, a new question came up: Is there a space where people can expand their research interests and share their ideas related to theoretical and material forms of expression?
Not too long after looking for a place like this, I found The Centre for Expanded Poetics (CEP) through one of my seminars. The CEP is a space within the English Department where students, artists, and thinkers can collaborate in experimental, transdisciplinary projects related to poetics with cutting-edge technology at hand. The project started in 2017, after three years of careful planning and several renovations for the lab. Professor Nathan Brown obtained funding by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI); a not-for-profit organization created by the government of Canada to equip universities with research facilities for innovative research. This was a much-welcomed initiative that has turned out to be very productive for the literary and research community at Concordia.
Some of the equipment at the CEP includes: A 3D printer and laser cutter, computers with the latest design software, a library focused on 20th and 21st centuries experimental poetry, a projector and a conference room. But their risograph caught my attention as particularly important, serving for small press printing. Jess, the lead risograph printer, let me have a peek at their appealing collage collection and other prints from their archive.
Past and current collaborations with the CEP include students from majors like Fine Arts, Cinema, Textiles, Architecture and Philosophy. Many of them are looking to express their projects related to poetics through printed material in various designs. Other collaborations involve long-term projects and resources. For example, the CEP has helped with the printing and binding of anthologies like Sina Queyra’s Lemon Hound and books like M. NourbeSe Philip’s Looking for Livingstone. CEP’s current research project titled Expanded Poetics:
Romantic, Modernist, Contemporary seeks to localize the growing interest of mixing arts and sciences as interdisciplinary meaning-making under the context of modernist practices of inter-arts experimentation.
The CEP is a place for creation. It offers the necessary tools for the design, print, and distribution of projects. Other activities you can explore at the CEP include talks from invited faculty concerning poetics, help with event planning, weekly reading seminars on theory, film screenings, and collage creation. If you would like to collaborate with them or know more about their activities, you can check out their website.
By Saul Carrera