A cognitive poetics of kinaesthesia in Wordsworth

Yuan, Wenjuan (2013) A cognitive poetics of kinaesthesia in Wordsworth. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This project is an effort to explore the kinetic aspects of Wordsworth's works on the one hand and scale up cognitive grammar (Langacker, 2008; Talmy, 2000a, 2000b) to literary discourse on the other hand, both of which stand as relatively underdeveloped areas in a cognitive approach to literature. Specifically, I focus on the kinetic and kinaesthetic notions of motion, force and energy expounded in cognitive grammar, mainly, fictive motion, force dynamics and energy chains, addressing issues not only related to kinetic representation in literary texts but also its possible effects upon readers. With the English Romantic poet Wordsworth as the case study, I conduct detailed cognitive poetic analyses of selected poems, mainly informed by some cognitive grammatical constructs, to reveal the 'invisible' meaning of the text (Langacker, 1993).

I outline a cognitive aesthetics of motion by drawing on findings from cognitive science, cognitive grammar and aesthetic theory. Based on this account, I conduct a systematic examination of the fictive motion and fictive stationariness in Wordsworth's works as regards their literary representation and poetic effects. Particularly this reveals how Wordsworth instils fictivity, dynamicity and subjectivity in the literary representation of nature. I relate this manner of describing nature to the picturesque tradition, which is closely associated with a static representation of nature originating in the eighteenth century. I present my analysis as evidence of Wordsworth's attempt to transcend this tradition. With respect to force, I link the notions of force dynamics, texture and poetic tension (Tate, 1948), arguing that force dynamics on the one hand constitutes one important dimension of texture and on the other hand is the conceptual core of poetic tension. I then apply the force-dynamic model to demonstrate how a force-dynamic view could illuminate the differing texture of two poems by Wordsworth.

My analysis of the two poems helps account for their differing conceptual complexity and also their contrasting popularity among literary critics. In the case of energy, I draw on Langacker's action chain model, which proposes an energy flow across clauses. I scale the model up to the discourse level and then develop an energetic reading of Wordsworth, examining how energy is represented in another two poems by Wordsworth. This thesis sets out to be a significant work in both cognitive poetics and critical studies of Wordsworth. In the field of cognitive poetics, it is a timely response to redress the imbalance between a majority of macro-level analyses and a minority of close stylistic analyses, and to answer a growing call for returning the focus back to the textuality and texture of the text. The frameworks I have drawn on are not limited to the appreciation of Wordsworth or nature poetry; they can be fruitfully applied to other poets and other types of poetry.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Stockwell, P.J.
Conklin, K.
Keywords: Action chain, Cognitive grammar, Cognitive poetics, Fictive motion, Force dynamics, kinaesthesia, stylistics, William Wordsworth
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and literature > PR English literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 28585
Depositing User: Walsh, June
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2015 10:58
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 18:39
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/28585

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