Kirstie Blair explores Victorian poetry in relation to Victorian religion, with particular emphasis on the bitter contemporary debates over the use of forms in worship. She argues that poetry made significant contributions to these debates, not least through its formal structures. By assessing the discourses of church architecture and liturgy in the first half of the book, Form and Faith in Victorian Poetry and Religion demonstrates that Victorian poets both reflected on and affected ecclesiastical practices. The second half of the book focuses on particular poets and poems, including Browning's Christmas-Eve and Tennyson's In Memoriam, to show how High Anglican debates over formal worship were dealt with by Dissenting, Broad Church and Roman Catholic poets and other writers. This book features major Victorian poets - Tennyson, the Brownings, Rossetti, Hopkins, Hardy - from different Christian denominations, but also argues that their work was influenced by a host of minor and less studied writers, particularly the Tractarian or Oxford Movement poets whose writings are studied in detail here.
Form and Faith presents a new take on Victorian poetry by showing how important now-forgotten religious controversies were to the content and form of some of the best-known poems of the period. In methodology and content, it also relates strongly to current critical interest in poetic form and formalism, while recovering a historical context in which 'form' carried a particular weight of significance.
Kirstie Blair is a lecturer at the University of Glasgow. Her primary research interests lie in Victorian literature, particularly poetry and poetic form, working-class poetry and poetics, literature and religion, and literature and medicine. She has published on Tennyson, George Eliot, Vita Sackville-West, and Virginia Woolf, among others. She has edited a collection of essays on John Keble (John Keble in Context (Anthem, 2004)) and has contributed to The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology and the Blackwell Companion to Literature and the Bible. Her first monograph, Victorian Poetry and the Culture of the Heart, appeared in 2006 from OUP.
1. Tractarian Poetry and the Forms of Faith ; 2. 'Structured Shade': Poetry and Church Architecture ; 3. 'Familiar Rhythms': Poetry and the Liturgy ; 4. Dissenting Forms: The Brownings ; 5. 'Beyond the Forms of Faith?': Tennyson and the Broad Church ; 6. Definite Forms and Catholic Poetics ; Bibliography