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Hanson, Kristin

Hanson, Kristin


Kristin Hanson, born in Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A., in 1957. Ph.D. from Stanford University, California. Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

Fellow (1 Sept 2016 – 31 Jan 2017)

An Art that Nature Makes:  A Linguistic Perspective on Meter in English

Research Question

What is the relationship between the art form called “poetic meter”, and the capacity of the human mind to develop a grammar of the rhythm of a language?

Project Description

An Art that Nature Makes analyzes the major metrical systems of modern English within a universal theory of poetic meter based on recent research into the universal grammar of linguistic rhythm.  It proposes new answers to long-standing questions of what poetic meter is, why particular languages favor the meters they do, and how meter produces expressive effects, based on hypotheses about the mind’s innate capacity to structure linguistic rhythm in certain ways and not others, as manifest in the kinds of stress systems found across languages. The book shows how this theory illuminates formal, historical and aesthetic properties of the English iambic pentameter in various forms, as well as properties of its Romance cousins, Old English forebears, and “strong-stress” descendants. Most importantly, the book aims to strengthen the epistemological foundation of the study of meter by grounding it in methods of generative linguistics, yet showing how these support aesthetic claims.

Selected Publications

1. _____ and Sharon Inkelas (eds). 2009. The nature of the word: studies in honor of Paul Kiparsky. Cambridge: MIT Press, 750 pp.

2. _____. 2012. Linguistics and poetics. Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th ed. ed.

by Roland Greene and Stephen B. Cushman, pp. 803-809.

3. _____. 2010. Generative metrics: the state of the art. Current trends in metrical analysis ed. by

Christoph Küper, Frankfurt: Peter Lang pp. 45-62.

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