Romantic Marks and Measures

Romantic Marks and Measures

Wordsworth's Poetry in Fields of Print

by Julia S. Carlson

31 illus.

  • Hardcover
  • 9780812247879
  • Published: January 2017



In the late eighteenth century, British print culture took a diagrammatic and accentual turn. In graphs of emphasis and tonal inflection, in signs for indicating poetic stress, and in tabulations of punctuation, elocutionists, grammarians, and prosodists deployed new typographic marks and measures to represent English speech on the page. At the same time, cartographers and travel writers published reconfigurations of landscape on large-scale topographical maps, in geometric surveys, and in guidebooks that increasingly featured charts and diagrams. Within these diverse fields of print, blank verse was employed as illustration and index, directing attention to newly discovered features of British speech and space and helping to materialize the vocal and visual contours of the nation.

In Romantic Marks and Measures, Julia S. Carlson examines Wordsworth's poetry of "speech" and "nature" as a poetry of print, written and read in the midst of topographic and typographic experimentation and change. Investigating the notebook drafts of "The Discharged Soldier," the printer's copy of Lyrical Ballads, Lake District guidebooks, John Thelwall's scansion of The Excursion, and revisions and editions of The Prelude, she explores Wordsworth's major blank verse poems as sites of intervention—visual and graphic as well as formal and thematic—in cultural contests to represent Britain, on the page, as a shared landscape and language community.