Rise of New Science Epistemological, Linguistic, and Ethical Ideals and the Lyric Genre in the Eighteenth Century

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This is the first work to study the relationship between the rise of science in the 17th and 18th centuries and the rise to major genre status of the lyric genre. It argues that the epistemological, linguistic, and methodological principles which underlay the rise of the new science also influenced the ways in which poets and critics conceived of the significance and cultural value of the lyric genre. Relying on a wide range of critical commentary from the 17th to the late 18th century, much of it from little known or unknown critical writings, the study shows how the lyric genre became the key for understanding poetry and the function of poetry. It offers a model for understanding the relationships between literature and other cultural experiences, encouraging critical, historical, and multi-disciplinary research.


“… establishes the philosophical and scientific context within which the poetry was produced, and by so doing shows that the language of eighteenth-century poetry – so often misunderstood and even derided – represents a serious engagement with the intellectual movements of the time. His discussion of both the conceptual context of the poetry and of the texture of the poetry itself is perceptive, scholarly and knowledgeable. The book throughout is informed by a searching intelligence, supported by an admirable grasp of both detail and the wider picture. This book changes the way in which we view eighteenth-century poetry and is essential reading, not only for all students of the period, but for all serious readers of poetry.” – Dr. W. B. Hutchings, University of Manchester

“The background against which Carson Bergstrom interprets the development of lyric poetry in the eighteenth century – a background notably marked by the rise of experimental science and its various epistemological and linguistic ideals – shows that critical and imaginative thinking about the lyric was both informed and inspired by these ideals. One of the real scholarly benefits of Carson Bergstrom’s work is that it introduces us to a wide range of writers whose work shows us an eighteenth century in which dynamic, spirited, and thoughtful debate about genre and culture is the norm, an eighteenth century which contrasts sharply with the usual picture usually painted of it.” – Dr. Ronald B. Hatch, University of British Columbia

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. Experimental Science, Authority, Language
3. Science and Lyric in the Seventeenth Century
4. The New Science and the Criticism of Poetry
5. Eighteenth-Century Lyric
6. Concluding Remarks
Bibliography; Index

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