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Poetry, science, and religion in the eighteenth century

Perception and analogy explores ways of seeing scientifically in the eighteenth century. It discusses literary, theological, and didactic texts alongside popular works on astronomy, optics, ophthalmology, and the body to demonstrate how readers are prompted to take on a range of perspectives in their acquisition of scientific knowledge. With reference to topics from colour perception to cataract surgery, the book examines how sensory experience was conceptualised during the eighteenth century. It argues that by paying attention to the period’s documentation of perception as an embodied phenomenon we can better understand the creative methods employed by disseminators of diverse natural philosophical ideas. This book argues for the central role of analogy in conceptualising and explaining new scientific ideas. It centres on religious and topographical poetry by writers including James Thomson, Richard Blackmore, Mark Akenside, Henry Brooke, David Mallet, Elizabeth Carter, and Christopher Smart. Together with its readings of popular educational dialogues on scientific topics, the book also addresses how this analogical approach is reflected in material culture through objects – such as orreries, camera obscuras, and Aeolian harps – that facilitate acts of perception and tactile engagement within polite spaces. The book shows how scientific concepts become intertwined with Christian discourse through reinterpretations of origins and signs, the scope of the created universe, and the limits of embodied knowledge.

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Rosalind Powell

method and effects of analogy; and, finally, the co-presence of science and religion in the period’s habitual physico-theological outlook. I outline these here. Poetry Topographical poetry, as a genre that seeks to represent the landscape and the experience of looking at it, can be read as an indicator of the developing figuration of sensory experience in this period. In the poems that I take as exempla, eyes scan skies and landscapes and focus on particular details, vision is facilitated by lenses and

in Perception and analogy
Rosalind Powell

-century topographical poetry from Gray, Akenside, and Thomson before introducing the increasing attention to the lived experiences of blind people including the poet Thomas Blacklock. I then outline new models of spiritual perception in the work of Edward Young and William Blake that combine analogies of somatic perception with concepts of mortal restriction. The second half of the chapter introduces the impact of Hartleian associationism and looks at how both the nerves and analogous stringed instruments become popular creative tropes for

in Perception and analogy
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The Dindshenchas Érenn and a national poetics of space
Amy C. Mulligan

traditions had been menaced, and the continuity of national life broken, by the Norman Invasion’, 71 they extended the project of the Dindshenchas Érenn , and turned to Irish topographical poetry to realize an alternate landscape that could restore, in their verses, a nation’s life, its sustaining lore, history and traditions. Even while physically moving through a geography that registered a different and darker contemporary colonial reality, in a small act of rebellion one could nonetheless

in A landscape of words