SLL8 Liminal Poetics: or, The Aesthetics of Dissent
Belén Piqueras (ed.), 2008
ISBN 84-931843-6-5

The essays collected here are the result of the 5th International Seminar on Liminality and Text, held at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in March 2007. The main purpose of the seminar was to instigate a scholarly debate in relation to the principles which govern the production of meaning on and by the limen, about the role the limen plays in different levels and fields, with the ultimate intention of delineating a poetics of the threshold. Each contributor approached the issue from his/her own field of interest, but all of them coincided in identifying a function of what could be broadly defined as “dissent”; the mutable and unpredictable reality of the threshold, its “structure-dissolving” quality, is the perfect tool to dismantle the neat and often purposeful architecture of the current artistic practice. It is precisely the liminal nature of the poetics illustrated in this volume that determines their potential for transgression, their capacity to question the prevailing discourses and reassess them in a new aesthetic programme. A common feature to all the poetics analyzed here is their questioning of borders and margins, their defiance of narrow categories and bounding formal patterns, and their substitution of these patterns for more open and often more personal forms of meaning. The denial and violation of established artistic categories and semantic guidelines is an act of dissent and transgression, a metaphorical “crossing” always performed on the basis of a liminal programme, as the articles collected here reveal. The examples of liminal poetics chosen by these authors defy and stand against the principles of closure and formal discreteness (Aguirre, Quance, Mandel), or against the limits that separate the different arts (Pujals), or the different genres (Mandel), or against the preconceptions imposed by cultural convention that delimit and impoverish our experience of art (Farrell, Mandel), or against the violation of natural boundaries in postmodern societies (Wenzel). These poetics can be analyzed attending to the hybrid character that some of them develop (Aguirre, Mandel, Farrell), or attending to the fluctuating nature of the limen they expose (Pujals, Quance, Wenzel), but independently of the approach, they always respond to the intention of confronting the immutability and complacence of orthodox forms.