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Presentation by Mark Algee-Hewitt on “Poetic Epistemologies”

On November 11th, 2021, Mark Algee-Hewitt presented his recent work on the new project “Poetic Epistemologies.”

This project explores the relationship between information and knowledge production in the poetry of the long eighteenth-century and Romantic periods. Despite the highly figurative and allusive nature of eighteenth-century poetry, its proximity to the Enlightenment allows it to rely on catalogues of empirical objects and objects of immediate sensory experience. In contrast, Romantic poetry’s own self-theorization imposes a representational gap between the objects described and their use in producing poetic knowledge (e.g. Wordsworth’s “emotions recollected in tranquility”). This project, still in its early stages, explores this changing epistemology across the poetry of the long eighteenth century. How does poetry create meaning in both periods? How are objects represented between and across poems? How does the organization of objects in poems tell us about the way that knowledge is produced and communicated? Using the 55,000 poems from these periods from the Chadwyck-Healey poetry corpus, I test a series of new methods to investigate the semantic, syntactic, and poetic relationships between objects and concepts in poetry.