Piety, Poetry and the Funeral Sermon: Reading Graveyard Poetry in the Eighteenth Century

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    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Eighteenth-century "graveyard poetry", as a literary category, has been a problematic one at best. Modern studies of graveyard poetry are restricted to the footnotes of larger traditions, afflicted by a combination of formal and aesthetic codes that fail to fully validate its generic and taxonomic differentiation. This essay presents graveyard poetry as a historically embedded poetic mode, and demonstrates how it can be viewed as a specific experimental response to the intersection of evolving reading, religious and poetic practices of the early to mid-eighteenth century. This revision reads graveyard poetry alongside changing religious practices that appear to mark discernable shifts from collective to individual modes of religious experience, and from public to private forms of devotion. Moreover, it suggests that graveyard poetry was an ideal alternate didactic medium to the declining printed funeral sermon, able to aesthetically facilitate private meditation upon death via affective and subjective response.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)174-192
    Number of pages19
    JournalEnglish Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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