ROMANTICISM ON "THE LINE?" WORDSWORTH RESPONDS TO RAILWAY EXPANSION IN 1844
Wingfield, Anna, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
This study traces William Wordsworth's poetic and prose responses to railway expansion in 1844 as extensions of gradualist and picturesque aesthetic debates. Close readings of various sonnets reveal the poetic manifestations of Wordsworth's gradualist philosophy as well as advocacy for the preservation of local spaces. I discredit the claims that Wordsworth's later compositions betray the radical politics and poetics of his early work and instead suggest that his concerns to maintain local rural tradition reveal a deep humanitarianism rooted in protecting poor workers from the commodification of capitalistic schemes. Two major points emerge from this study: Wordsworth's later philosophies on aesthetics, nature, and poverty remain consistent with earlier debates, and the censure he received from contemporaries, and even modern scholars, for his railway responses is unjust. Wordsworth's critiques actually predate common Victorian arguments against railway expansion while remaining congruent with his earliest publications; this study therefore not only bridges supposedly disparate eras of his compositional life, but also the contrasting eras of Romantic and Victorian sensibilities.
MA (Master of Arts)
Romanticism, Railway, William Wordsworth , Victorian
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)