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Myth as Genre in British Romantic Poetry

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Paul M. Wiebe

The notion that Romantic poetry is mythopoeic has become one of our assumptions about the Romantic period. This study re-evaluates that assumption from a new perspective, that of genre criticism, and argues that myth functions as an effective critical term only when it is defined pragmatically as a genre. In this study, myth is defined as a text that projects a world structured around three components: supernatural beings, humans, and nature. Using this model, Myth as Genre in British Romantic Poetry provides new analyses of selected Romantic works and concludes that the Romantics' sporadic return to the three-term discourse of myth represents a reaction against the dominant Romantic discourse of subject and object. The study also addresses related theoretical issues such as the validity of pragmatic genres and the relationship between genre analysis and literary history.