Dr Cornelia Gräbner

Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature

Additional Information

How can we best listen to expressions of imaginings of social and political transformations in the spirit of decolonizing liberation, global and local justice, and high-intensity democracy? What ways of listening put us in a position to respond, to join, to act in solidarity? Which culturally engrained obstacles stand in the way of such transformations, and how can we critically unravel and actively remove them? How can we best understand, and make the most of, the interplays of the poetic and the organisational, of experimentality and emancipation, of imagination and defense?

My research takes on such questions, by deploying poetic sensibilities and cultural analysis and by paying close attention to the poetic and cultural dynamics in three areas: performance and spoken word poetry, committed writing, and cultural imaginaries of acquiescece in the 21st century.

Performance and Spoken Word Poetry -- when it is socially and politically committed and outspoken -- plays with the adventurous poetic words, critical self-awareness, social situatedness, obstinate curiosity, political poignancy and joy in experimentality. It militates against the elitist contempt for oral cultures, and against the nationalist, völkisch /folkish and fascist denigration and destruction of some, and appropriation of others. It enacts and pre-figures alternatives to such contempt, disdain, denigration and destruction. In my engagements with performance poetry I seek to contribute to practices of listening and response that are astute, attentive, committed and open-minded, that strengthen the relevance of spoken word poetry to other areas of life, that nurture the capacity of organizers and poets to resist appropriation and dispossession by market forces and neoliberal cultural politics, and that share their struggle when they go counter to contemptuous aesthetics.

Committed writing -- in fiction and non-fiction, in poetry and prose -- is based on listening closely to those who are not listened to at all, or who are listened and responded to in ways that are not commensurate with their experiences, intentions and desires. The listening practiced before and during committed writing recognizes that the refusal to listen at all, as well as the refusal to (learn to) listen appropriately and respectfully, are political and ideological, even and especially when their practitioners claim neutrality for themself. Committed writing invites readers to practice different practices of listening: practices that work towards undoing privilege, create the potential for solidarity, and that engage with, and position themselves towards, the intensities of those who have committed politically. My research on committed writing -- often from Mexico and other Central American countries -- proposes practices of listening and response from a position that owns up to commitments and responsibilities; as part of it, I'm working with others on knowledges and pedagogies that are based on clear ethical and political positions (see blog series The Aliveness of Memory: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/languages-and-cultures/blogs/staff-blogs/cornelia-grabner/).

Imaginaries of Acquiescence in the 21st century are a constitutive feature of the cultures of contemporary low-intensity democracies, just as they have been features of totalitarian and dictatorial regimes in the past. I pick apart the hidden transcripts of acquiescence and suppression in our contemporary contexts, whereby 'acquiescence' can also refer to the engagement for, and the pacting with, authoritarian and right-wing movements on the basis of cherry-picking. Among other aspects, I address the dynamics of entanglement, the acquiescence to the stigmatization and expulsion of others, and the concatenations of submission and rendition.


Individual: Cultural Imaginaries of Acquiescence in Contemporary Low-Intensity Democracies, funded by The Leverhulme Trust from September 2017 until May 2019.

Collaborative: "Contemporary Poetry and Politics: Research on Contemporary Relations between Cultural Production and Sociopolitical Context (POEPOLIT)" is funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitivity of the Spanish Government (FFI2016-77584-P, 2016-2019). It is based at the University of Vigo, Galiza, Spain, and includes a core group of international researchers. See https://poepolit.blogspot.nl/p/poepolit.html

Selected Publications Show all 42 publications

Absences and Opacities: Reading ‘Hidden’ Stories of Seafaring in B. Traven’s Ship of the Dead and Francisco Goldman’s The Ordinary Seaman
Grabner, C. 9/01/2018 In: Atlantic Studies. 15, 1, p. 83-102. 20 p.
Journal article

Poetry and performance: the Mersey poets, the international poetry incarnation and performance poetry
Gräbner, C. 31/12/2015 In: The Cambridge companion to British poetry since 1945. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Public spaces and global listening spaces: poetic resonances from the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico
Gräbner, C. 08/2015 In: Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies. 11, 3, 26 p.
Journal article

“But how to speak of such things?”: decolonial love, the coloniality of gender, and political struggle in Francisco Goldman's The Long Night of White Chickens (1992) and Jennifer Harbury's Bridge of Courage (1994) and Searching for Everardo (1997)
Gräbner, C. 2014 In: Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies. 20, 1, p. 51-74. 24 p.
Journal article