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Academic & Professional Books  History & Other Humanities  Literary & Media Studies

Birdsong, Speech and Poetry The Art of Composition in the Long Nineteenth Century

By: Francesca Mackenney(Author)
236 pages, b/w illustrations
Birdsong, Speech and Poetry
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  • Birdsong, Speech and Poetry ISBN: 9781316513712 Hardback Sep 2022 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £74.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

In the long nineteenth century, scientists discovered striking similarities between how birds learn to sing and how children learn to speak. Tracing the 'science of birdsong' as it developed from the 'ingenious' experiments of Daines Barrington to the evolutionary arguments of Charles Darwin, Francesca Mackenney reveals a legacy of thought which informs, and consequently affords fresh insights into, a canonical group of poems about birdsong in the Romantic and Victorian periods. With a particular focus on the writings of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Wordsworth siblings, John Clare and Thomas Hardy, her book explores how poets responded to an analogy which challenged definitions of language and therefore of what it means to be human. Drawing together responses to birdsong in science, music and poetry, her distinctive interdisciplinary approach challenges many of the long-standing cultural assumptions which have shaped (and continue to shape) how we respond to other creatures in the Anthropocene.


1. The science of birdsong: 1773-1871
2. The science of language: 1755-1873
3. 'Prelusive notes': Coleridge and the Wordsworths
4. 'Undersong': John Clare
5. 'We Teach 'Em Airs That Way': Thomas Hardy

Customer Reviews


Francesca Mackenney is a Research and Teaching Fellow in Romanticism at the University of Leeds. Her research and related work in environmental education has been funded by an AHRC Doctoral Award, a BARS/Wordsworth Trust Early Career Fellowship, an award from Creative Scotland and an AHRC International Placement at the Library of Congress.

By: Francesca Mackenney(Author)
236 pages, b/w illustrations
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