Online Essays

NB. In addition to the links below, see also numerous others essays on my reader response webpage.

Please note that the copyright of most of the essays below is held by the publisher. The essays are made available for purposes of private study and research only and must not be copied or reproduced in any form.

Foregrounding and the Sublime: Shelley in Chamonix. Language and Literature 16 (2007): 155-168.

Percy Shelley's first view of Mont Blanc overwhelmed him, as shown both in a letter he wrote that day and in his poem "Mont Blanc." In this essay I analyse the effects on his language, from disrupted syntax to an animistic response to the landscape. I also consider some ethical implications of the sublime in Shelley's poem: aspects that I refer to as presence, community, and autonomy.

Representing the Picturesque: William Gilpin and the Laws of Nature. ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment 12 (2005): 75-93.

William Gilpin was the object of satire in his own times, and the object of ideological critique in recent discussions. In this essay I defend Gilpin's writings and suggest they offer a legitimate insight into the laws of nature.

The Library versus the Internet: Literary Studies Under Siege? PMLA 116 (2001): 1405-1414.

The digitizing of literature affects how we read and what we read, methods of study, the preservation of the archive, and the forms taken by new writing, some of which is specifically designed to exploit the electronic medium. In this paper I offer a sketch of the problems, possibilities, and paradoxes that we face as literary scholars.

Locating Wordsworth: "Tintern Abbey" and the Community with Nature. Romanticism On the Net 20 (November 2000)

Difficulties in interpreting this poem have been compounded by uncertainty over the location described in its opening paragraph. I show that recent historicist accounts of the poem are as a result misleading in several respects. I provide evidence from contemporary travellers that indicate the location, and consider what this means for Wordsworth's account of his relation to nature.

The Preceptor as Fiend: Radcliffe's Psychology of the Gothic. In Laura Dabundo, Ed., Jane Austen and Mary Shelley and Their Sisters. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000. pp. 31-43.

I suggest that Radcliffe's novels engage critically with the maxims and precepts enforced in late eighteenth-century women's education and conduct books. Radcliffe's heroines represent the adolescent state favoured by patriarchal culture. This is a revised version of the published essay.

The Project Method in the Literary Classroom. In Louann Reid and Jeff Golub, Eds., Reflective Activities: Helping Students Connect with Texts. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1999. pp. 149-155.

Argues for taking students' responses to literature seriously, and engaging them in discussion through the project approach. An example report on a project by a student is included.

Trivializing or Liberating? The Limitations of Hypertext Theorizing. Mosaic 32 (June 1999): 157-172.

.(Online is preprint version). Claims about the virtues of hypertext emphasize how it will free both the reader and the text. Exploring the arguments of theorists such as Jay David Bolter, George Landow, and Stuart Moulthrop, this essay shows that they misrepresent what is actually involved in the reading of both printed and electronic texts.

The Hypertextual Moment. English Studies in Canada 24 (1998), 157-174.

(Online is preprint version). In this essay I examine some typical accounts of the hypertext medium and query the visionary claims made for it in its opposition to print culture. . . . If hypertext exemplifies the postmodern regime, as Moulthrop and others believe, then it also admirably fulfils Lyotard's prognostication for the information age. "Along with the hegemony of computers comes a certain logic" prescribing what counts as knowledge; "We may thus expect a thorough exteriorization of knowledge with respect to the 'knower,' at whatever point he or she may occupy in the knowledge process" (Lyotard 4). Here, then, are some of the liabilities of reducing knowledge to information apparent in the discourse on hypertext.

The Resistance of Reading: Romantic Hypertexts and Pedagogy. (Online at Romanticism On the Net 16, November 1999.)

How are we to understand literary reading that occurs in a hypertext environment? In this essay I consider theories of hypertext, but offer an alternative view of reading developed from an examination of lines by Wordsworth. I then outline the design principles involved in Romanticism: The CD-ROM, a hypertext resource, and illustrate the work that students have done with the CD in a project, "Reading Mont Blanc."

Reading and Writing Hypertext.

What is the rhetoric of hypertext, particularly as it is now being used on the internet, and what does it mean for how one might read hypertext or write it? This note-form essay was intended to facilitate discussion at the conference Making Words Selling Words (February 27 to March 1 1997, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta).

Hypertext and Reading.

On January 17 1997 in the English Department we held a panel discussion on hypertext, sponsored by the Orlando Project. This is a transcript of my contribution, on the topic of hypertext and reading.

The Self in History: Wordsworth, Tarkovsky, and Autobiography

Conference version (1995) of this paper, later published in The Wordsworth Circle 27 (1996): 9-13. In the essay I show how the private self is related to the larger forces of history in both The Prelude and Mirror.

Related site: Tarkovsky's Mirror. A synopsis of the film. Includes 12 screen shots.

Representing and Interpreting Literature by Computer.

This paper, reprinted with minor revisions from the Yearbook in English Studies (1995), examines the promise of the computer medium for literary analysis, and interrogates the postmodern status claimed for hypertext.

Wordsworth and The Prelude: the Problematics of Feeling. Studies in Romanticism 31 (1992): 233-253.

The texture of The Prelude, recursive and episodic, with all the losses, puzzlements, and satisfactions that it traces, is primarily the texture of the feelings. The uncertainties, displacements, and elisions are those of a mind attempting to locate and delineate its feelings.

Coleridge's Albatross.

This is a hypertext version of a previously published essay: "Guilt and Death: The Predicament of the Ancient Mariner," Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 24 (1984), 633-653. In this version access to the poem is available whenever a passage is cited during the discussion; a timeline for events in Coleridge's life related to the poem has also been added.

Forms of Reading: Recovering the Self as Reader.

This paper by David S. Miall and Don Kuiken is now published in Poetics (revised version). It was first presented at the XIV Congress of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics in Prague (August 1-4 1996). We question theoretical claims that there is nothing intrinsically "literary" about literary texts, and examine some empirical studies that appear to support a formalist position. For further information on Miall-Kuiken reader response studies, see our Reading web site.

The Campaign to Acquire Coleridge Cottage

The Cottage in Nether Stowey in Somerset where Coleridge lived (1797-8) was given to the National Trust in 1906. In this paper I relate the history of the campaign, a story of perseverance and misunderstanding. Based on my essay in The Wordsworth Circle 22.1 (Winter 1991), 82-88. Includes three early views of the Cottage. For more on the Cottage see the website of The Friends of Coleridge.

The Displacement of Emotions: The Case of "Frost at Midnight"

A paper that I gave at the first Coleridge Conference, Nether Stowey, in 1988 (which I directed). It was published the following year in The Wordsworth Circle. I look at Coleridge's discourse about emotions, and suggest that it reflects his early difficulties over being exiled from his home village when a child.

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Document created May 21st 1998 / Last revised November 22nd 2008