Explores liturgical practice as formative for how three Victorian women poets imagined the world and their place in it and, consequently, for how they developed their creative and critical religious poetics.
This new study rethinks several assumptions in the field: that Victorian women’s faith commitments tended to limit creativity; that the contours of church experiences matter little for understanding religious poetry; and that gender is more significant than liturgy in shaping women’s religious poetry.
Exploring the import of bodily experience for spiritual, emotional, and cognitive forms of knowing, Karen Dieleman explains and clarifies the deep orientations of different strands of nineteenth-century Christianity, such as Congregationalism’s high regard for verbal proclamation, Anglicanism’s and Anglo-Catholicism’s valuation of manifestation, and revivalist Roman Catholicism’s recuperation of an affective aesthetic. Looking specifically at Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Adelaide Procter as astute participants in their chosen strands of Christianity, Dieleman reveals the subtle textures of these women’s religious poetry: the different voices, genres, and aesthetics they create in response to their worship experiences. Part recuperation, part reinterpretation, Dieleman’s readings highlight each poet’s innovative religious poetics.
Dieleman devotes two chapters to each of the three poets: the first chapter in each pair delineates the poet’s denominational practices and commitments; the second reads the corresponding poetry. Religious Imaginaries has appeal for scholars of Victorian literary criticism and scholars of Victorian religion, supporting its theoretical paradigm by digging deeply into primary sources associated with the actual churches in which the poets worshipped, detailing not only the liturgical practices but also the architectural environments that influenced the worshipper’s formation. By going far beyond descriptions of various doctrinal positions, this research significantly deepens our critical understanding of Victorian Christianity and the culture it influenced.
In Re-reading Poets, Paul Kameen offers a deep reflection on the importance of poets and poetry to the reader. Through his historical, philosophical, scholarly, and personal commentary on select poems, Kameen reveals how these works have helped him form a personal connection to each individual poet. He relates their profound impact not only on his own life spent reading, teaching, and writing poetry, but also their potential to influence the lives of readers at every level.
In an examination of works by William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Walt Whitman, and others, Kameen seeks to sense each author’s way of seeing, so that author and reader may meet in a middle ground outside of their own entities where life and art merge in deeply intimate ways. Kameen counters ideologies such as New Criticism and poststructuralism that marginalize the author, and instead focuses on the author as a vital presence in the interpretive process. He analyzes how readers look to the past via “tradition,” conceptualizing history in ways that pre-process texts and make it difficult to connect directly to authors. In this vein, Kameen employs examples from T. S. Eliot, Martin Heidegger, and Mikhail Bakhtin.
Kameen examines how people become poets and how that relates to the process of actually writing poems. He tells of his own evolution as a poet and argues for poetry as a means to an end beyond the poetic, rather than an end in itself. In Re-reading Poets, Kameen’s goal is not to create a new dictum for teaching poetry, but rather to extend poetry’s appeal to an audience far beyond academic walls.
In Romantic Complexity, Jack Stillinger examines three of the most admired poets of English Romanticism--Keats, Coleridge, and Wordsworth--with a focus on the complexity that results from the multiple authorship, the multiple textual representation, and the multiple reading and interpretation of their best works.
Specific topics include the joint authorship of Wordsworth and Coleridge in the Lyrical Ballads, an experiment of 1798 that established the most essential characteristics of modern poetry; Coleridge's creation of eighteen or more different versions of The Ancient Mariner and how this textual multiplicity affects interpretation; the historical collaboration between Keats and his readers to produce fifty-nine separate but entirely legitimate readings of The Eve of St. Agnes; and a number of practical and theoretical matters bearing on the relationships among these writers and their influences on one another.
Stillinger shows his deep understanding of the poets' lives, works, and the history of their reception, in chapters rich with intriguing questions and answers sure to engage students and teachers of the world's greatest poetry.
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