"Between You and I": The Performative Utterance in Lyric
Lyric is the oldest literary form in many cultures. Now commonly known as the most intense and moving among sub-genres of poetry, lyric seems to have received little critical attention in contemporary literary theories. In most ancient cultures such as the Chinese and the Greek, poetry is defined as an art of engagement closely related to song and dance. Since self-expression in verse is taken as a "performance" of emotion and intent, an author-oriented approach to the lyric voice has been dominant over the centuries. The modernist depersonalization of poetry is an obvious swirl from the Romantic rhetoric whereas the post-modern accommodating collage of the discontinuous and the irreconcilable puts into question the existence of a coherent lyric voice. However, there is a return to this voice in recent scholarship. Donald Wesling talks about the social moorings and Susan Stewart explicates the sensory experience of hearing it. This paper will further challenge the conventional expressive theories of lyric and explore the dialogic exchange between the speaker "I" and the addressee "you" in a poem, with a view to bring new insights that explain why lyric remains a most engaging literary genre.
Keywords: Lyric voice, Dialogism, Performative utterance, Expressive and Affective theories
Dr Lisa Wong
Assistant professor, Division of Humanities, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology