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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Research Seminar - Dr.Stacey McDowell

“Wordsworth and Reading’s Promise”

Wordsworth’s idea of the poem as a ‘promise’ or ‘pledge’
looks forward not only to the potential of literary reception,
but also to ways of establishing a relationship of obligation
that sees reading hold out the promise of future connection.
I trace instances when his poems imagine their own future
reading by someone who is absent for the time being or more
often by someone who has died. These poems consider how
a promise plays out over time, seeking consolation in
contingency by looking to the rhythms of reciprocity and
rhythms of reading. I’ll be thinking about broken promises
and death-bed promises, while also drawing on some
Romantic-period discussions of the promise (by William
Godwin) and more recent accounts of promising as a
performative utterance.