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Chapter 9 - Medical Vocabulary in English Romantic Literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 October 2022

Irma Taavitsainen
University of Helsinki
Turo Hiltunen
University of Helsinki
Jeremy J. Smith
University of Glasgow
Carla Suhr
University of Helsinki
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New resources have led to new insights into the history of English vocabulary. The appearance of machine-readable corpora has made it possible to contextualise particular idiolectal usages much more comprehensively than was possible until recently. Such developments have allowed, through the harnessing of the large bodies of data to be found in the Oxford English Dictionary and other resources, a much better understanding of intertextual engagement: what might be called authorial invention, the focus of this chapter. The chapter focuses on authorial invention during the Romantic period, with reference to three writers whose imaginative outputs drew profoundly on their understanding of medicine: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), Mary Shelley (1797–1851), and John Keats (1795–1821). As Richard Holmes has argued, Romanticism drew profoundly on its scientific inheritance, in the cases analysed here derived from direct or indirect encounters with thinkers such as Thomas Beddoes (1760–1808), Astley Cooper (1768–1841), William Cullen (1710–1790), and Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802). However, they transformed this inheritance through what Holmes terms ‘imaginative intensity’.

Genre in English Medical Writing, 1500–1820
Sociocultural Contexts of Production and Use
, pp. 128 - 149
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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