Architectural poetics :configurations of space in nineteenth-century poetry

Weeks, Hilary ORCID: 0000-0002-9845-016X (2006) Architectural poetics :configurations of space in nineteenth-century poetry. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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This thesis explores the complex correspondences between architecture and writing, and establishes the grounds for a nineteenth-century poetics of architecture. Drawing on extensive research in architectural writing, including periodical literature, architectural historiography, aesthetics, design theory and architectural practice, this thesis redefines, for the first time, established notions of 'literary architecture' as a specifically nineteenth-century textual enterprise, one that explores spatiality through textual, rather than visual, strategies - chiefly, the analogue and the rhetorical figure of ekphrasis. The thesis therefore investigates interrelations between art media as a basis for the analysis and interpretation of nineteenth-century poetry, as well as analysing the relationship between contemporaneous architectural discourses and poetry. Cultural changes, notably the professionalisation of architectural practice, urban expansion and increased political enfranchisement, foster contemporary debates about built space, which come into play variously in the period's literary production. John Ruskin's architectural writings formulate the concept of the building-text, and set the standard for mid-century inter-art discourses. Ruskin's central metaphors of the quarry and the book represent the twin nineteenth-century preoccupations of archaeological recovery and the historical continuum. His work, however, refuses the consolations of progress and completion, as does the work of all the writers analysed. The typological, doctrinally-committed poetry of Isaac Williams and John Keble pushes analogical relationships to their limits. The Tractarian mode of architectural poetics is the most cohesive, because it is the most reflexive; dispensing with questions of history, their building-texts are spatial reifications of textual symbols. Tennyson and Browning, conversely, work with architectural discourses and spatial metaphors toward a phenomenological exploration of modes of existence and inhabitation. Tennyson writes a poetics of dissolution into his architectural tropes; his work prioritises presence and absence over organised spatiality and symbolic architecture. Browning invites parallels between political enfranchisement and built space - a mid-century nostrum - only to challenge them, refusing, like Ruskin, political recuperation of the aesthetic.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
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Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR500 Poetry
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 30 May 2022 15:32
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:56

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