The Body in the Word: A Cognitive Approach to the Shape of a Poetic Text
COGNITIVE STYLISTICS: LANGUAGE AND COGNITION IN TEXT ANALYSIS, Elena Semino and Jonathan Culpeper, eds., John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 23-47, 2002.
26 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2009
Date Written: 2002
As William Blake noted many years ago, 'poetry admits not a letter that is insignificant.' In a poem, everything counts. For Emily Dickinson's poetry, almost all of it unpublished during her lifetime, reading the manuscripts becomes crucially important in a cognitive appraisal of the text and the poet's creative processes. In this paper, I show how a cognitive analysis of several of Dickinson's manuscripts show that editorial decisions on line structure have misled readers into misinterpreting the poems. The tools of cognitive poetics can thus be shown to be superior in establishing a poem's affective meaning.
Keywords: cognitive poetics, cognitive style, manuscript study, Emily Dickinson, syntax, metre
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