Wordsworth and the Passions of Critical Poetics
Defining poetry as the 'overflow of powerful feelings' and 'emotion recollected in tranquillity', Wordsworth adopts two of the key claims of British Whig aesthetics: the centrality of affect to human being, and the need to regulate said affect. Wordsworth continues that poetry is feeling and that the metered pleasure of poetry makes it possible for the reader to field emotions otherwise difficult to bear.
Wordsworth and the Passions of Critical Poetics presents a new political Wordsworth: an artist who regards poetry as a 'relatively autonomous' space in which to liberate, experiment with, and redistribute affect. No slave of Whig ideology, Wordsworth investigates how poetic emotion generates human experience and meaning. He renders poetry a critical instrument that, through its acute sensitivity to feeling, can evaluate public and private life. If Whig feeling is the origin of Wordsworth's poetry, pleasure in and of itself, available to all, is its end.