Painting with Poetry: Ekphrastic Substitution in British Romantic Poetry
The British Romantic period was haunted by an imaginative iconoclasm that was endemic to its poetic structure. The romantic belief in the intellectual and more importantly the factual superiority of words over pictures steeps poets’ works in an inescapable iconophobia, a fear of “a dumb Art.” This iconophobia has led scholars like W.J.T. Mitchell to argue that canonical romantic poets took an “antipictorialist” stance to critique and suppress the visible into “invisibility.” This thesis documents the supposed “antipictorialism” in British romantic poetry and importantly, the representational strategies inspired by encounters with the visible. In evaluating ekphrastic poems from different moments of the nineteenth century, I argue that the romantic poets, because of their iconophobia, never tried to suppress the visible but in fact consciously absorbed the visible into their poetry through various processes of ekphrastic substitution. William Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley each work through the intricacies of this paradox by examining how their individual skepticism entangles the visible in a new ekphrastic structure, divergent from mimesis, that concomitantly heightens their iconoclastic goals.
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THE DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION OF ENGLISH AND FRENCH ROMANTIC POETRY Preslopsky, Brian (Georgetown University, 2012)The Romantic Movement in the arts is often described as a "revolution." However, artistic movements are inevitable progressions out of the periods preceding them, at first rising slowly, then accelerating, peaking, and ...