William Wordsworth and the Ecology of Authorship: The Roots of Environmentalism in Nineteenth-Century Culture

By Osborn, Katie | John Clare Society Journal, July 2013 | Go to article overview

William Wordsworth and the Ecology of Authorship: The Roots of Environmentalism in Nineteenth-Century Culture


Osborn, Katie, John Clare Society Journal


William Wordsworth and the Ecology of Authorship: The Roots of Environmentalism in Nineteenth-Century Culture. By SCOTT HESS. Charlottesville and London, University of Virginia Press. 2012. 288 pp. £24.50.

Scott Hess's professed project is to show how William Wordsworth's poetry was shaped by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century contexts and practices, and how in turn Wordsworth's construction of nature has shaped our contemporary ecological consciousness and the discourse of the environmental movement. Each of the five chapters takes the same basic structure: Hess identifies a particularly problematic nineteenth-century cultural construct or context and then traces its influence into the modern era.

Hess observes that modern readers and critics of nineteenth-century female and labouring-class poets usually contextualise these writers in terms of their social position. He self-consciously takes a similar strategy with Wordsworth, arguing that Wordsworth's construction of nature cannot be disentangled from his privileged position as an educated, white, and middle-class man. Hess's central point is that definitions of nature, environmentalism, and even the aims of the environmental movement are not as self-evident as they appear to be. The brand of middle-class pastoral environmentalism inspired by William Wordsworth - one that sequesters in parks and landmarks spots of nature that are desirable or scenic according to a particular high-brow aesthetic, while ignoring the degradation of urban or working environments - is married to a problematic construct of nature, the 'ecology of authorship'. The ecology of authorship grew from Wordsworth's constructed identity as resident genius of the Lake District. It is a version of nature framed through Wordsworth, which prefers subjective and isolating individualism over communal life,· leisure and spirituality over everyday work, subsistence and economic activity,· and (perhaps most important to Hess) 'disinterested', high-aesthetic appreciation of nature over a more participative, sensually immersive relationship.

But Hess considers numerous other nineteenth-century and contemporary writers' versions of nature, especially, in a fairly long comparison, the very different 'natures' of William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth, and John Clare. Raymond Williams and John Barrell's influence on Hess is apparent throughout the book but especially in these sections, where Hess contextualises each poet's framing strategy in terms of their gender and class. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

William Wordsworth and the Ecology of Authorship: The Roots of Environmentalism in Nineteenth-Century Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.