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Title: Tracking the commons : pastoral, enclosure and commoning in J.H. Prynne and William Wordsworth
Author: Eltringham, Daniel Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 8213
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available