Glossator 11 (2016): Marianne Moore – CFP

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Marianne Moore’s indictment of her own craft remains to this day a shrewd affront to critical exegesis. Piqued by ‘the immovable critic’, she treads a fine line in ‘Poetry’ between approbation and displeasure, a feeling entangled in the confession that ‘we do not admire what / we cannot understand’. Notwithstanding her penchant for axioms of this sort, Moore inclines elsewhere to a mode of expression that is dense, riddling and allusive; a poetics fit for sustained ‘inspection’, perhaps, but one whose fluid textual condition also resists ‘high sounding interpretation’. Given Moore’s tendency to revise published material – shuffling, redacting, reworking, restoring – it has often been difficult to say what ‘all this fiddle’ amounts to.

In taking Moore’s doubts about interpretation seriously, this special issue of Glossator proposes a broad approach to her verse and the stylistics of commentary. Glossing, annotating, doodling, and footnoting – Moore was always sensitive to smaller forms of labour and textual diversion, and the apparatus of her Collected Poems (‘A Note on the Notes’) bears witness to a bashful enthusiasm for marginalia, for ‘provisos, detainments, and postscripts’. Glossator welcomes contributions of two kinds, then: essays about the commentarial mode; and actual commentaries, queries and notes on particular poems.

Essays of 4000-6000 words may explore, but are not limited to, the following texts and topics:

  • Borrowing, allusion, and intertextuality in Moore’s verse – networks of influence – and our means of describing them
  • Moore’s critical work – for The Dial, and in The Complete Prose (1986)
  • Moore’s paratexts – ‘A Note on the Notes’ in the Collected Poems (1952); ‘Foreword’ to The Fables of La Fontaine: A Complete New Translation (1954); ‘Foreword’ to A Marianne Moore Reader (1961)
  • The significance and scope of scholarly editions by Robin Schulze (2002) and Heather Cass White (2008, 2012)
  • The relationship between life-writing and textual commentary, with particular attention to Linda Leavell’s Holding on Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (2013)

Contributors are encouraged to consult the journal’s general guidelines for commentary, which are detailed in the About section, and to peruse the journal’s Archive. If you are interested in contributing to this volume, please send a brief abstract to Dr Edward Allen, the issue editor, at


2 October 2015: Abstract proposal due to editor
1 January 2016: Decision regarding abstracts and selection of contributors
24 June 2016: Final Submission
August 2016: Publication


Glossator 8 (2013)

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G8 front copy

Glossator 8 (2013)

Kafka’s Zurau Aphorisms — Michael Cisco
Sensuous and Scholarly Reading in Keats’s ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ — Thomas Day
Notes to Stephen Rodefer’s Four Lectures (1982) — Ian Heames
Ornate and Explosive Grief: A Comparative Commentary on Frank O’Hara’s “In Memory of My Feelings” and “To Hell with It”, Incorporating a Substantial Gloss on the Serpent in the Poetry of Paul Valéry, and a Theoretical Excursus on Ornate Poetics — Sam Ladkin
On In Memory of Your Occult Convolutions — Richard Parker


Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary

Glossator 10 (2015): Pearl — CFP

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“Perle plesaunte to princes paye / To clanly clos in golde so clere . . . ” (Pearl, lines 1-2).  Illuminating the paradoxical imperative to enclose and display the beautiful, the opening image of Pearl encodes at once the poem’s formal demand for commentary and its own commentarial poetics. On the one hand, the text’s permutative polysemy, aesthetic density, and continuing allegorical refractions persistently elicit explication in a special, conspicuous way. On the other hand, the literary dream-vision produces itself as a dialectical and interpretive reflection with and upon the Pearl herself, an unfinishable gloss on the mystery of “that specyal spyce” (938) whom the poet works to indicate across an impassible margin. Seeking to elaborate, continue, and expand Pearl’s poetics of radiant enclosure, this volume will offer a collective commentary on the full poem, divided according to its constitutive fitts or sections, which are marked by stanza-linking keywords:

I-Spot *
II-Adubbement *
III-More and More *
IV-Pyght *
V-Jueler *
VI-Deme *
VIII-Courtaysye *
IX-Date *
XI-Inoghe *
XIII-Maskeless *
XIV-Jerusalem *
XV-Lesse *
XVI-Mote *
XVII-John *
XVIII-Mone *
XIX-Delyt *
XX-Paye *

The editors of Glossator seek commentarial laborers for each section of this twenty-fold poetic vineyard, to be apportioned on a first-come, first-served basis. Contributions must conform to the journal’s general guidelines for commentary, which are detailed in the About section. Suggested length: 7000 words.  If you are interested in contributing to this volume, please send a brief abstract to the editors at The abstract should indicate which fitt you intend to comment on and the overall approach your commentary will take. NB: an asterisk above indicates that that fitt has been reserved. UPDATE: As the chance of simultaneous submissions has increased, please email editors to confirm availability before composing an abstract.


15 July 2014: Submissions due to editors
October 2014: Submissions returned to authors with comments
15 January 2015: Final Submission
March 2015: Publication

Glossator 7 (2013): The Mystical Text (Black Clouds Course Through Me Unending . . . )

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G7 front copy

Volume 7 (2013): The Mystical Text (Black Clouds Course Through Me Unending . . . )

Editors: Nicola Masciandaro & Eugene Thacker

In Priora Extendens Me: Confessiones, IX.x.23-25 – Kevin Hart
Abandonment: Giving Voice in the Desert – Ron Broglio
Commentarial Nothingness – Daniel Colucciello Barber
Thinking the Charnel Ground (the Charnel Ground Thinking): Auto-Commentary and Death in Esoteric Buddhism – Timothy Morton
When Death Became a Creature: Saint Francis & Sister Death – Beatrice Marovich
Uncoupling the Hermit: Richard Rolle’s Hermit-ing – Christopher Roman
The Authority of Reason: on John Scottus Eriugena’s Periphyseon, I.508C-513C – Cinzia Arruzza
Silvering, or the Role of Mysticism in German Idealism -Daniel Whistler
Sophia Within, Without Sophia, Whither Sophia: The Longing of Philip K. Dick – Aron Dunlap & Joshua Ramey
The Voice of the Mirror: Strange Address in Hildegard of Bingen – Karmen MacKendrick

It is always surprising to discover that the great mystics produced so much, that they left so many treatises. Undoubtedly their intention was to celebrate God and nothing else. This is true in part, but only in part. We do not create a body of work without attaching ourselves to it, without subjugating ourselves to it. Writing is the least ascetic of all actions . . . The mystics and their ‘’collected works.” When one addresses oneself to God, and to God alone, as they claim to do, one should be careful not to write. God doesn’t read . . . — E. M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born


Best Commentaries of 2011-12

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[compiled by the editorial board]

Dante Alighieri. Divine Comedy. 3 vols. Trans. Robert M. Durling. Notes by Ronald L. Martinez and Robert M. Durling. Oxford, 1997-2011.

Rodney Ascher. Room 237. IFC Films, 2012.

Selected Philosophical Poems of Tommaso Campanella: A Bilingual Edition. Ed. and trans. Sherry Roush. University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Tommaso Campanella. Selected Philosophical Poems. Edited, translated, and annotated by Sherry Roush. Fabrizio Serra, 2011.

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson. Eds. David Bevington, Martin Butler, and Ian Donaldson. 7 volumes. Cambridge, 2012.

Dark Chaucer. Eds. Nicola Masciandaro, Eileen Joy, and Myra Seaman. punctum, 2012.

Quentin Meillassoux. The Number and the Siren. Trans. Robin Mackay. Urbanomic, 2012.

On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy: The Thirteenth-Century Paris Textbook Edition. Trans. L. M. Harrington. Peeters, 2011.

Stephen Barney, Andrew Galloway, et al. The Penn Commentary on Piers Plowman. 5 volumes. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006-present. [Volume 1 and Volume 5 completed].

J.H. Prynne. George Herbert, ‘Love [III]’: A Discursive Commentary. 2011.

Reading Derrida’s Of Grammatology. Eds.  Sean Gaston, Ian Maclachlan. Continuum, 2011.

Steven Shaviro, “Melancholia, or, The Romantic Anti-Sublime,” Sequence 1.1 (2012)

Mabja Jangchub Tsondru. Ornament of Reason: The Great Commentary to Nagarjuna’s Root of the Middle Way. Trans. Dharmachakra Translation Committee. Shambala, 2011.

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