Walking Women: Embodied Perception in Romantic and Contemporary Radical Landscape Poetry

Eleanore Widger

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Reading early Wordsworth through Adorno, this article suggests that Romantic walking entails the subjugation of external objects through the exercise of an imperial and elevated perception. It then considers Dorothy Wordsworth’s influence over her brother and the possibility that a Romantic ‘eco-poetic’ emerges from the ‘feminine’ perspective below the mountain, and within the domestic landscape. I argue that this gesture away from walking and mountaineering as the demonstration of physical prowess, or as the pursuit of a real or ideal goal, is taken up by three contemporary women poets of landscape. Harriet Tarlo, Frances Presley and Helen Macdonald offer different ways of walking, which dispense with goal-orientation, explore the ethical choices available to perceptual beings, and attempt a more immersive, embodied engagement with the land. Their contribution to contemporary ‘radical landscape poetry’ combines the feminist discourse of ‘situated knowledge’ with an implicitly enactivist approach to human encounters with the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2017

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