front cover of Re Verse
Re Verse
Essays on Poetry and Poets
David R. Slavitt
Northwestern University Press, 2009
David R. Slavitt will tell you that he does not believe in literary criticism so much as in "remarks," which are more portable and, often, more enlightening. In this witty and unusual work, he remarks upon the life of a poet in the second half of the twentieth century, how it was--and how it is--to be an American writer.

Combining personal reminiscence with deft literary analysis, incisive biographical sketches, and, sometimes, literary gossip, these essays give new perspectives on the famous--such as Harold Bloom, Robert Penn Warren, Robert Frost, and Stephen Spender--and recover the charms of the near-forgotten--such as Dudley Fitts, Winfield Townley Scott, Merrill Moore and John Hall Wheelock. Slavitt writes with self-deprecating humor of his own literary education, and uses his impressive experience and erudition to illuminate the whims of poetic influence, passion, and reputation. With a refreshing honesty and considerable poise, he gives readers an enlightening view of the vast and ever-changing literary universe.

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Reconceiving Nature
Ecofeminism in Late Victorian Women's Poetry
University of Missouri Press, 2019
Surprisingly, glimmerings of ecofeminist theory that would emerge a century later can be detected in women’s poetry of the late Victorian period. In Reconceiving Nature, Patricia Murphy examines the work of six ecofeminist poets—Augusta Webster, Mathilde Blind, Michael Field, Alice Meynell, Constance Naden, and L. S. Bevington—who contested the exploitation of the natural world. Challenging prevalent assumptions that nature is inferior, rightly subordinated, and deservedly manipulated, these poets instead “reconstructed” nature.

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Religious Imaginaries
The Liturgical and Poetic Practices of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Adelaide Procter
Karen Dieleman
Ohio University Press, 2012

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.


front cover of Re-reading Poets
Re-reading Poets
The Life of the Author
Paul Kameen
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010

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. 


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Revivalist Fantasy
Alliterative Verse and Nationalist Literary History
Randy P. Schiff
The Ohio State University Press, 2011
Revivalist Fantasy: Alliterative Verse and Nationalist Literary History by Randy P. Schiff contributes to recent conversations about disciplinary history by analyzing the nationalist context for scholars and editors involved in disseminating the literary historical theory of an Alliterative Revival. Redirecting Alliterative Revivalism’s backward gaze, Revivalist Fantasy re-engages with the local contexts of select alliterative works.

Schiff revises readings of alliterative poetry as Francophobic, exploring the transnational imperialist elitism in the translation William of Palerne. He contributes to the discussion of gender in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by linking the poem’s powerful female players with anxieties about women’s control of wealth and property in militarized regions of England. The book also explores the emphatically pre-national, borderlands sensibilities informing the Awntyrs off Arthure and Golagros and Gawane, and it examines the exploitation of collaborative composition in the material legacy of the Piers Plowman tradition.

Revivalist Fantasy concludes that Revivalist nationalism obscures crucial continuities between late-medieval and post-national worlds and that critics’ interests should be channeled into the forging of connections between past and present rather than suspended in the scholarly pursuit of origins. The book will be of interest to scholars of editorial history and translation studies and to those interested in manuscript studies.

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Romantic Complexity
Keats, Coleridge, and Wordsworth
Jack Stillinger
University of Illinois Press, 2005

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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The Romantic Ideology
A Critical Investigation
Jerome J. McGann
University of Chicago Press, 1983
Claiming that the scholarship and criticism of Romanticism and its works have for too long been dominated by a Romantic ideology—by an uncritical absorption in Romanticism's own self-representations—Jerome J. McGann presents a new, critical view of the subject that calls for a radically revisionary reading of Romanticism.

In the course of his study, McGann analyzes both the predominant theories of Romanticism (those deriving from Coleridge, Hegel, and Heine) and the products of its major English practitioners. Words worth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Byron are considered in greatest depth, but the entire movement is subjected to a searching critique. Arguing that poetry is produced and reproduced within concrete historical contexts and that criticism must take these contexts into account, McGann shows how the ideologies embodied in Romantic poetry and theory have shaped and distorted contemporary critical activities.

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Romantic Poetry
Recent Revisionary Criticism
Kroeber, Karl
Rutgers University Press, 1993
This anthology fills the need for a comprehensive, up-to-date collection of the most important contemporary writings on the English romantic poets. During the 1980s, many theoretical innovations in literary study swept academic criticism. Many of these approaches--from deconstructive, new historicist, and feminist perspectives--used romantic texts as primary examples and altered radically the ways in which we read. Other major changes have occurred in textual studies, dramatically transforming the works of these poets. The world of English romantic poetry has certainly changed, and Romantic Poetry keeps pace with those changes. Karl Kroeber and Gene W. Ruoff have organized the book by poet--Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelly, and Keats--and have included essays representative of key critical approaches to each poet's work. In addition to their excellent general introduction, the editors have provided brief, helpful forewords to each essay, showing how it reflects current approaches to its subject. The book also has an extensive bibliography sure to serve as an important research aid. Students on all levels will find this book invaluable.

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Romanticism’s Other Minds
Poetry, Cognition, and the Science of Sociability
John Savarese
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
In Romanticism’s Other Minds: Poetry, Cognition, and the Science of Sociability, John Savarese reassesses early relationships between Romantic poetry and the sciences, uncovering a prehistory of cognitive approaches to literature and demonstrating earlier engagement of cognitive approaches than has heretofore been examined at length. Eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writers framed poetry as a window into the mind’s original, underlying structures of thought and feeling. While that Romantic argument helped forge a well-known relationship between poetry and introspective or private consciousness, Savarese argues that it also made poetry the staging ground for a more surprising set of debates about the naturally social mind. From James Macpherson’s forgeries of ancient Scottish poetry to Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, poets mined traditional literatures and recent scientific conjectures to produce alternate histories of cognition, histories that variously emphasized the impersonal, the intersubjective, and the collective. By bringing together poetics, philosophy of mind, and the physiology of embodied experience—and with major studies of James Macpherson, Anna Letitia Barbauld, William Wordsworth, and Walter Scott—Romanticism’s Other Minds recovers the interdisciplinary conversations at the heart of Romantic-era literary theory.

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