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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

As an essentially temporal yet highly patterned event, literary experience mirrors cognitive experience more generally. In both, past experience pervasively informs present experience and present experience, in turn, predicts and conditions future experience. In literature, however, this conversion of actual sequence into perceived superposition, of time into space, tends to be more palpable and accordingly more legible. Using the example of William Wordsworth’s spatial poetics as enacted in The Prelude and as analyzed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Geoffrey Hartman, and Isobel Armstrong, this chapter argues that literary experience may provide unique insight and access into the temporal structure of cognition. This foundational dimension of cognitive experience is mischaracterized by our habitual conceptualizations of time, and as a consequence it has been largely overlooked in cognitive analyses of these conceptualizations, such as those proposed by blending theory. Attention to the temporal dynamics of literary comprehension may help to remedy this oversight.

Keywords: time, space, spatial poetics, blending theory, Wordsworth, Coleridge, The Prelude

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