Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Christine Gallant

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Galchinsky

Third Advisor

Dr. George Pullman


This study explores “poetic knowledge” as the episteme of the epic. The Romantic epic, as exemplified by Wordsworth's 1805 Prelude, modernized this traditional genre so that the epic continues to be relevant for education today. The initial chapter compares and contrasts the distinctions between poetic and scientific knowledge. Chapter Two explores the didactic possibilities of the epic genre. Chapter Three discusses poetic knowledge as a heterogeneous, variegated, and accommodating episteme that both challenges and accommodates modern conceptions of scientific knowledge. Memory cohesively unifies the narrative of The Prelude. As such, Chapter Four discusses the use of didactic memory in The Prelude. Chapter Five discusses the use of chiasmus in The Prelude, and references the pre-Socratic philosophy of Heraclitus. The first section of Chapter Six explores a postlapsarian “ecology of the mind” as relevant to Book XIII of the 1805 Prelude. This section is followed by a general conclusion to this study that reiterates the interconnectedness between poetic and scientific knowledge.