Earth’s poesy: Romantic poetics, natural philosophy, and biosemiotics

Rigby, K (2016) 'Earth’s poesy: Romantic poetics, natural philosophy, and biosemiotics.' In: Zapf, H, ed. Handbook of ecocriticism and cultural ecology. De Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 45-64. ISBN 9783110308372

7403.pdf - Other
Repository Terms Apply.

Download (506kB) | Preview
Official URL:


This chapter undertakes an exploration of the pre-history of contemporary biosemiotics in Romantic ecopoetics, beginning with the ways in which Romantic natural philosophies, such as those of Schelling and Goethe, opened the way for a renewed appreciation of the subjective ‘worlds’ or Umwelten, as Jakob von Uexküll later termed them, along with the agency, communicative capacity, and, in some cases, ethical considerability of more-than-human beings. Secondly, I will examine the implications of this philosophical re-animation of materiality for the reconceptualization of human language, especially as deployed to poetic ends. Here, I turn to Friedrich Schlegel’s (1967 [1800]) “Conversation on Poetry,” in which human 'poiesis', the crafting of ideational worlds by means of words, is repositioned as an emergent property of the prior 'autopoiesis' of natural becoming. Finally, I will indicate how this German proto-biosemiotics finds a literary counterpart in the ecosemiotics of English Romantic literature, focusing on John Clare’s birds’ nest poetry.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section

Part of the 'Handbooks of English and American Studies' series.

Keywords: biosemiotics, Romanticism, Goethe, Schelling, Clare
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2016 17:32
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:42
URI / Page ID:
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)