Also available as a printed book see title verso for ISBN details

A Linguistic History of English Poetry

Bringing together the emphases and techniques of modern linguistics and literary criticism, the author applies these to a range of poems from Shakespeare to the present day. The author argues that poetry is uniquely and intrinsically different from other linguistic discourses and non-linguistic sign systems.

Looking at a variety of approaches, including those of the New Critics, Formalists, structuralists and poststructuralists, he reveals how poetic structure and poetic signification have changed since the sixteenth century, and offers new interpretive models and methods for criticising poetry. Particular emphasis is placed on the texts' contexts, both in relation to literary history, and social, cultural and aesthetic considerations.

The texts covered include poems by Donne, Herbert, Marvell, Milton, Pope, Thomson, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Hopkins, Pound, Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, Auden, e.e. cummings, Larkin, and E.J.Thribb.

The book contains detailed readings of individual texts, worked examples and exercises, and a glossary, and is ideal for undergraduate courses in English, Stylistics and Linguistics.

Richard Bradford is Lecturer in English at the University of Ulster at Coleraine.


A linguist deaf to the poetic function of language and a literary scholar indifferent to linguistic problems and unconversant with linguistic methods, are equally flagrant anchronisms.—Roman Jackobson

This statement, made over twenty-five years ago, is no less relevant today, and 'flagrant anachronisms' still abound. The aim of the INTERFACE series is to examine topics at the 'interface' of language studies and literary criticism and in so doing to build bridges between these traditionally divided disciplines.

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