Wordsworth’s Gothic Education: The Excursion

Tom Duggett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter turns from the “Gothic” politics of the Peninsular War to the “Gothic” terms of debate around national education, focusing particularly on the representation and continuation of that debate 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 publicationGothic Romanticism
Subtitle of host publicationWordsworth, Architecture, Politics, Form
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePalgrave Gothic
ISSN (Print)2634-6214
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6222


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