Wordsworth’s Gothic Education

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Abstract

This chapter discusses the “progressive Gothic politics" of the Lake Poets in the context of national education, focusing particularly on its working out in the “something of a dramatic form” of Wordsworth’s "Excursion" (1814). I argue that the Lake Poets’ advocacy of Andrew Bell’s “Madras” system of pupil-tuition shows their “progressive Gothic politics” in action, connecting Wordsworth’s reactions to Bell and his own developing thoughts about education in texts such as the Reply to Mathetes (1809–10) back to the 1790s revolution controversy and the original social and educational mission of "The Recluse". It is because Bell’s system was both appreciably national or “Gothic” in outward appearance and potentially socially progressive in underlying design that it was given such prominence in "The Excursion", a poem that was, according to its preface, addressed to the “existing state of things,” and patterned upon a “gothic Church.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Harp and the Constitution
Subtitle of host publicationMyths of Celtic and Gothic Origin
PublisherBrill
Chapter4
Pages66-96
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)978-9004306370
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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