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    Tracking the commons : pastoral, enclosure and commoning in J. H. Prynne and William Wordsworth

    Eltringham, Daniel Paul (2017) Tracking the commons : pastoral, enclosure and commoning in J. H. Prynne and William Wordsworth. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis is the first study of the poetry of William Wordsworth and J. H. Prynne of its length. Its main argument is that Wordsworth, Prynne and their respective historical moments are joined by the conceptual frame of ‘the commons’, their enclosure, and representations of agrarian labour, especially in literary pastoral. While essay-length treatments of Wordsworth and Prynne exist, this thesis extends and broadens these beginnings by reading Wordsworth’s earlier work (c. 1793-1805) as it turns and returns throughout Prynne’s writing life, both in poetry and criticism, from the 1960s until the early years of the twenty-first century. In doing so it makes an intervention into the contested field of ‘the commons’, unearthing a buried history of ongoing accumulation, ‘new’ enclosure and dispossession from the parliamentary enclosures to the globalized present. The methodology of this thesis combines archival research in the fields of literary history and material and local histories of place, worked through theoretical thought and poetic practice localized around the commons, commoning and enclosure. I make extensive archival use of Prynne’s correspondence with the North-American poets Charles Olson and Edward Dorn and of the poetry ‘worksheet’ The English Intelligencer (1966-68), to demonstrate that Wordsworthian concerns with community and cultivation, and dwelling and vagrancy, are central and unacknowledged constituents of Prynne’s poetic working-through of the commons. I also employ archival material on Romantic enclosure and customary culture in Wordsworth’s Lake District, uncovering a textured understanding of ‘the common’ that complicates the idealizations of communitarian life in Wordsworthian pastoral. I demonstrate how Wordsworth’s common speech is taken into contemporary poetry by Prynne and, differently, by Lisa Robertson’s notion of the vernacular. This thesis argues throughout for a common poetics of agrarian labour linking Wordsworth and Prynne, and develops new conceptualizations of the temporality, space and poetics of commoning and enclosure.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: This thesis is not currently available for public use.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2017 14:58
    Last Modified: 11 Jun 2021 15:41


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