What is Wordsworth's contribution as a critic of culture?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Wordsworth's primay contribution as a critic of culture in his Preface to   Lyrical Ballads is to question blind convention and conformity in the production of literature.  When Wordsworth establishes the different levels of what poetry is and how it should be created, it is a critical assessment on what culture accepts.  Wordsworth is keenly aware that the validation of art is a reflection of cultural affirmation.  Cultural acceptance of art is a reflection of what culture values.

It is in this light where Wordsworth makes his cultural criticisms.  In his Preface, Wordsworth defines the subject matter of poetry as one that takes place in the natural world or the rural setting.  This domain is where natural perfection and poetic expression merge. Wordsworth demands this as being essential to the creation of poetry because society of the time does not validate the rural experience.  Wordsworth's praising of the emotional connection in poetry is also another critical assessment on how society does not validate emotional articulation in art.  In the Preface, Wordsworth constructs a vision of what society can be through defining what art should be.  It is in this light where his value as a critic of culture is most evident.

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