Department of English, Boston College
Romantic Metaphor and the Analytic
In a 1995 essay, "The Gush of the Feminine," Isobel Armstrong argues
for a new hermeneutics of women's poetry of the Romantic era, one that
reads the language of bodily sense as analytical rather than merely banal.
Recent theories of metaphor from cognitive linguistics can help us understand
how such a poetics might work: these theories explicitly place bodily
metaphor at the root of language and posit that such metaphor is central,
rather than peripheral, to human thought and reason. Drawing on work
by George Lakoff, Mark Johnson and others, this paper looks at the use
of bodily metaphor in a range of Romantic era poets, from Williams and
Smith to Wordsworth and Shelley. It mobilizes cognitive linguistics
to show how a supposedly feminine language of material and emotional experience
helps Romantic poets think the limits of the physical senses.
Beth Bradburn is a Doctoral student in English at Boston College.
Her areas of interest include British Romanticism and cognitive/literary
studies. She is currently working on her first minor reading exam,
"Literary Theory and Cognitive Science."