Rudrum, David (2008) How to do things with Wordsworth. In: Stanley Cavell and Literary Criticism Conference, 9th - 11th May 2008, University of Edinburgh. (Unpublished)

In the context of a brief reading of the well-known poem ‘Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’, Stanley Cavell cites Wordsworth’s emphasis (in the preface to Lyrical Ballads) on revitalising poetry with what he calls the language of the ‘rustic’ and the ‘low’. Cavell suggests that this emphasis is akin to a philosophical orientation on the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘everyday’. This paper teases out the implications of this claim. It offers a reading of the ‘Intimations Ode’ that seeks to compare Cavell’s insight with what Angela Esterhammer has called ‘the romantic performative’. It proceeds from this comparison to investigate in further depth the Cavellian conception of romanticism, and its relation to the questions of skepticism and ordinary language that are so fundamental to Cavell’s thought.

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