Beth Bradburn 
Department of English, Boston College
February 1998
 
Romantic Metaphor and the Analytic Body
 
In a 1995 essay, "The Gush of the Feminine," Isobel Armstrong argues for a new hermeneutics of women's poetry of the Romantic era, one that reads the language of bodily sense as analytical rather than merely banal.  Recent theories of metaphor from cognitive linguistics can help us understand how such a poetics might work:  these theories explicitly place bodily metaphor at the root of language and posit that such metaphor is central, rather than peripheral, to human thought and reason.  Drawing on work by George Lakoff, Mark Johnson and others, this paper looks at the use of bodily metaphor in a range of Romantic era poets, from Williams and Smith to Wordsworth and Shelley.  It mobilizes cognitive linguistics to show how a supposedly feminine language of material and emotional experience helps Romantic poets think the limits of the physical senses.
 

Beth Bradburn is a Doctoral student in English at Boston College.  Her areas of interest include British Romanticism and cognitive/literary studies.  She recently completed a reading exam on "Literary Theory and Cognitive Science."