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  • 2021KnottPhD

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Looking ‘before and after’: Reading Wordsworth through Evolved Cognition

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • George Knott
Publication date2022
Number of pages287
Awarding Institution
Award date23/12/2021
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis brings Wordsworth’s poetry and core poetic concerns into dialogue with emerging ideas in cognitive and evolutionary science, an area of research that broadly attempts to elucidate cognition and culture in relation to evolutionary history. It is well documented that Wordsworth considers the role of science in poetry and meditates on the relationship between his mind and nature. Yet while many critics have indeed sought to locate his poetry in relation to the history of science, illuminating the contemporary influences on his work, fewer have considered how the relationships of nature and mind in Wordsworth might be read in the light of modern science or how his own poetics might relate, specifically, to cognitive reading. To articulate and redress this interpretive gap, the thesis situates Wordsworth’s poetics in relation to evolved cognition. The thesis places a number of Wordsworth’s core poetic foci, along such key dimensions as permanence, survival and the relationship between imagination and meaning making, into relation with emerging ideas in the modern study of human cognition and its evolutionary history.