Victorian Prosody: Measuring the Field (Essay‪)‬

Victorian Poetry 2011, Summer, 149, 2

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Descripción editorial

The idea of proposing a special issue on Victorian prosody occurred to us after meeting at the 2007 North American Victorian Studies Association annual conference in Victoria, B.C. While attending the various panels, we noticed that we kept running into the same group of scholars. The conference was scheduled so that we could walk together from one poetry panel to the next, and so we began to participate in an ongoing conversation that continued over the three days of the conference. The theme of the 2007 NAVSA conference was "Victorian Materialities" and what we began to observe in the papers was that we were all interested, in one way or another, in the boundaries and borders of what had been named "cultural neoformalism." From Jason Hall's paper on the "hexameter machine" to Emily Harrington's discussion of Michael Field's publication history, m Catherine Robson's history of the popular poem "The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna," it was clear that less abstract and more historical, indeed, more material investigations of poetic form were afoot. (1) The words "culture," "history," "meter," "nineteenth century" continually appeared together, and we eagerly followed up what it meant for each of us to work with the historicity of poetic form in informal conversations throughout the conference. By the end of the conference, we felt that that the confluence of poetic form and considerations of materiality and material culture presented new ways of approaching the study of Victorian prosody. But how was this renewed interest in prosody distinct from what had come before? Since Dennis Taylor's book, Hardy's Metres and Victorian Prosody (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988) scholars have turned their attention to the theories of Coventry Patmore as a pivotal turning point in what early prosodic historian T. S. Omond called the "New Prosody" in 1907. (2) Indeed, following Taylor, important essays by Herbert Tucker and Yopie Prins reinvigorated the study of Victorian poetic forms more broadly for the Victorian era, (3) while Susan Wolfson's Formal Charges did the same for the Romantics. (4) And this narrative--of the cantemporary interest in poetic form that began in the last decade of the twentieth century--is repeated at the beginning of most scholarly articles that talk about prosody. Like Victorian prosodists listing their forebears, we follow a Victorian prosodic tradition, here, of paying tribute to those who have been interested in reviving the study and understanding of the history of poetic forms, as well as acknowledging the various, and potentially competing, methodologies as a way to assert that we are a discipline in need of (re)consideration.

Técnicos y profesionales
22 de junio
West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia

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