CFP – Comic Verse of the 19th Century: Power, Politics, Poetics

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

Grove House, University of Roehampton, London
Wednesday 20th July, 2022

“A servant write verses!” says Madam Du Bloom;
“Pray what is the subject? — a mop, or a broom?”

⎯ from Elizabeth Hands, ‘A Poem, On the Supposition of an Advertisement Appearing in a Morning Paper, of the Publication of a Volume of Poems by a Servant-Maid’ (1789)

Please you, excuse me, good five-o’clock people,
I’ve lost my last hatful of words,
And my heart’s in the wood up above the church steeple,
I’d rather have tea with the birds.

⎯ from Charlotte Mew, ‘Afternoon Tea’ (1903)

Literary critics have increasingly argued for poetics as an especially fecund space for social comedy and criticism. Gillian Beer, for example, demonstrates rhyme as “dialogue, quarrel and undersong…with the helpless excess of possibility that poises it always on the brink of comedy.” As a period in which nonsense, nursery rhyme and light verse…

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