More and less authenticity: a cognitive approach to revisioning the Romantic legacy of authenticity in manuscript copy of Wordsworth’s poem "The Waggoner"

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Abstract

Romantic poetics is characterized by a focus on individual authenticity, a belief in the inner self in dealing with the world, poetry and nature. Yet since the mid twentieth century, the question of individual authenticity has been deconstructed by pre- and post-World War II poststructuralist approaches to social and aesthetic dynamics of individual identity, cultural aesthetics and language. This essay argues though, that it is possible to engage with authenticity as a ‘more and less’ presence in creative writing process; that identifiable claims to embodied and cognitive authorship (if not the writer’s authority) may be discerned in iterated processes of making the literary text. This is in terms of creative processes of writing and choices writers make in their writing, which may also participate in the dismantling of individuality, incorporating other writers’ comments on the work in communities of writing. The essay is based on analysis of original archival copy of Wordsworth’s poem ‘Benjamin The Waggoner’ (1806-1819), with the use of drafts and corrections as material for cognitive study supported by theories of externalised cognition and Extended Mind theory. The trans-disciplinary approach of this paper thus incorporates frameworks of creative writing and literary studies with theories of embodied cognition to re-vision some of the key concepts of Romantic poetry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalText
Volume21
Issue number2 - Special Issue 41
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2017

Keywords

  • creative writing
  • Wordsworth
  • Waggoner
  • extended mind
  • authenticity

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