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Apr 4, 2017

William Wordworth's Sonnets Dedicated To Liberty are dominated by his personal and political connections with France, and his changing attitudes to Britain's participation in the counter-Revolutionary war effort. Wordsworth's experiments with the sonnet form in this period were clearly sustained, intensive and closely engaged with affairs of state. However, a number of the sonnets are also keenly responsive to 17th-century British history in ways that raise distinct challenges to our sense of Wordworth's shifting political attitudes. Are the sonnets continuous with Wordsworth's early radicalism? Or are the poems better understood as a redirection of political and imaginative energies under the pressure of the Napoleonic threat towards the conservative defence of the nation and tradition? In this lecture, Phil Connell considers these and other questions.