Date of Award
This study, comprising two parts, examines the social implications of William Wordsworth's plea in The Excursion for a system of national education. Utilising Michel Foucault's concern with power relationships, I show that in Book IX of the poem the Wanderer constitutes an index to emerging eighteenth-century social forces.
From an assertion that notions of order and discipline inform the Wanderer's discourse, part one moves to a discussion of some Enlightenment philosophers and their educational theories. Concluding with a consideration of some lesser known educational theorists, it introduces Dr. Andrew Bell's "Madras" system of education by which Wordsworth was heavily influenced.
Part two begins with a consideration of Wordsworth's political position. I then draw upon Foucault's notion of "genealogical analysis" to demonstrate that traditional interpretations of Wordsworth prevent critics from recognising the reactionary element in Wordsworth's early philosophy. Following an examination of the poet's concern with social order, the study concludes by showing that Foucault's work on "Docile Bodies" is applicable also to an analysis of eighteenth-century educational institutions.
Newman, Neville, ""Instructing Childhood's Ready Ear" - The Genealogy of William Wordsworth's Educational Philosophy" (1993). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7034.
McMaster University Library