Theses - English


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    Adapting to Resist: Epistemic Resistance in Twenty-First Century Antigones
    Bodur Bayraktaroglu, Ekin
    My thesis explores how Sophocles′ *Antigone* is reworked in Britain, Ireland, and Turkey in the 21st century to represent and enact political resistance. My contention is that *Antigone* constitutes a form of epistemic resistance in relation to current political issues, such as immigration, women′s liberation, war in the Middle East, and necropolitics. By closely examining various rewritings of *Antigone* both in theory and in performance, I observe that in the 21st century, adapting *Antigone* has taken an epistemic turn that parallels the turn in political theory with increased emphasis on language, discourse and speech acts. These works dislocate the centre of gravity in the established readings of the tragedy to make space for new resistant narratives and practices to emerge. For them, the burial issue at the heart of the play, what Antigone does, i.e., Antigone’s burial of her brother against the king’s edict, is no longer central; instead, what comes to the forefront is how Antigone resists the sovereign through her speech acts. Departing from José Medina′s theory on epistemic resistance, my work proposes a reading of postcolonial ⁄ Global South theatrical and literary adaptations of *Antigone* alongside political theory from the Global South, such as Achille Mbembe′s necropolitics, Banu Bargu′s necroresistance, and Andrés Fabián Henao Castro′s reformulation of the metic for strangers (refugees, undocumented immigrants, noncitizens) in the 21st century as well as the recent work of Judith Butler and Bonnie Honig on *Antigone*. In the case of Britain, I discuss Kamila Shamsie’s diasporic novel *Home Fire* (2017) and Inua Ellams’ *Antigone* (2022) in relation to citizenship and belonging of Britain′s Muslims. In the case of Ireland, I focus on Colm Tóibín′s *Pale Sister* (2019) and Darren Murphy′s *X′ntigone* (2022) to scrutinize how Ireland′s postcolonial status facilitates a critique of neocolonialism and imperialist wars in recent years, especially in the Middle East. Finally, in the case of Turkey, I examine Şahika Tekand′s *Eurydice’s Cry* (2007) to look into the rise of right-wing populisms and dictatorial models, and Berfin Zenderlioğlu′s Kurdish version, *Antigone2012* to rethink enforced disappearances in Turkey, Kurdistan. Through these case studies, my thesis puts literary adaptations and theory from the Global North and Global South in a generative conversation to highlight the entanglement of literature, postcolonial epistemologies, and counter–sovereign politics.
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    Reading "Monstrous" Humans in Reformation England
    Cumings, Elisheba Rumbidzai
    This thesis examines how the intersection of Renaissance humanist and Reformed Christian epistemologies led to the inauguration of a new framework for interpreting human and bodily difference in sixteenth-century England. Taking the notion of ‘monstrosity’ as its starting point, it demonstrates how the doctrine of providence was deployed in a wide range of texts to explain visible differences between and within human groups. I use the term *providential emblematisation* to describe the process by which these texts transformed humans into legible signs, training the reader to understand their own flawed interiority in relation to the spectacle of human deformity and, consequently, to read external monstrosity in terms of moral failure. The first chapter of the thesis considers a series of monstrous birth broadsides from 1562, arguing that in relation to their continental predecessors and to the later English tradition, these broadsides had a distinctive focus on the interiority of the reader. Conceiving of human monstrosity as a manifestation of collective but concealed sin, they present individual monstrous births as a means for the reader to grasp the extent of their own internal deformity, thus laying the affective groundwork for sincere repentance. The second chapter moves from monstrous births to the monstrous peoples (or monstrous ‘races’), taking as its primary focus Stephen Batman’s *Doome Warning all Men to the Judgement* (1581). In reading collective forms of difference (whether innate or contingent) as admonitory signs, I argue, this text depends upon a form of providential emblematisation which is closely related to race-making. The third chapter demonstrates how discourses relating to monstrous births and monstrous peoples, along with some of their hermeneutic assumptions, bled into English accounts (often translations of continental texts) of West Africa and the Americas, as well as their inhabitants. I argue that while these texts exist outside of the largely theological parameters of Chapters 1 and 2, they share some of their providential assumptions, conceiving of observable differences between humans (whether corporeal or cultural) as legible evidence of their eschatological status. In the final chapter of the thesis, I turn to Spenser’s *Faerie Queene*. Bringing the observations of the previous chapters to bear on this text, I argue that aspects of Spenser’s allegory share in the basic assumptions and tendencies of providential emblematisation. Focussing in particular on how the spectacle of the uncivil and emaciated body becomes the site of knowledge within and beyond the poem, I argue that *The Faerie Queene* draws on and in turn informs providential discourses concerning human and bodily difference. In each of these chapters, I remain alert to the actual violence which resulted from the epistemic violence inherent to providential emblematisation. Regimes of objectification, incarceration, transportation, and exhibition were natural consequences of the construction of human bodies as sites of knowledge and legible spectacles. In addition to contributing to period-specific debates about the human, the body, and bodily/human difference (including discourses of race and disability), the thesis engages with broader questions about how Western humanism constituted and contained its Others.
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    Communication with the Other World in Romantic Poetry
    Colombani, Greta
    From the godly Cynthia in Keats’s *Endymion* to the Polar Spirit and his fellow demons in Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, from P.B. Shelley’s fairy in ‘Queen Mab’ to Francesca’s ghost in Byron’s ‘The Siege of Corinth’, Romantic poetry is populated – or rather haunted – by supernatural beings coming into contact and often conversing with humans. In doing so, earthly and unearthly interlocutors are faced with the pressing problem of how to communicate across the seemingly unbridgeable distance between their metaphysical dimensions. How can such distance be overcome and messages conveyed over the chasm separating different worlds? How can one effectively reach out to a being that is essentially other from them? And what does it mean to come into contact and commune with otherworldliness? These are some of the main questions that Romantic poets address in their depictions of supernatural encounters and that are at heart of my research. My dissertation looks at communication with the Other World in the poetry of four major Romantic authors both within and without the traditional canon: Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Keats, and Felicia Hemans. It is situated at the intersection of two recent critical trends – a renewed interest in the supernatural aspects of Romanticism on the one hand, Romantic media studies on the other – and focuses on the frequent and meaningful, though so far overlooked, intertwining of these two themes – otherworldliness and communication – in Romantic poems. My research shows how, in Romantic representations, communication with the Other World acts as a magnifying glass that brings the challenges of ordinary communication in negotiating the gap between self and other to the extreme, providing illuminating insights on the authors’ views concerning the possibilities, modalities, and limits of communication. The Romantic period, which follows the eighteenth-century craze for conversation and precedes the advent of telegraphy and Spiritualism, proves a uniquely fascinating moment of transition in conceptualisations of communication, and poetry most suited to its exploration as a particularly important and problematic communicative medium of the time. Envisioning forms of contact across the gulf of Otherness turns out to be a way for the four poets under study to express their aspirations and anxieties about communicating at a distance and in non-informational ways but also about poetry itself, the otherness of its source and language, and how to communicate with an audience that was perceived as increasingly distant. In order to account for the specific issues pertaining to poetical depictions of otherworldly communication, I have recourse to concepts from linguistics and communication theory (in particular, the multifaceted notion of phatic speech) and set them in dialogue with poetic and lyric theory. By doing so, and by simultaneously paying close attention to the formal aspects of the texts, I not only aim to outline new ways of applying communication theory to the study of poetry, but I will also show how poetry is not just passively illuminated by linguistics. Rather, the former often resists and problematises the assumptions and demands of the latter by portraying instances of communication with Otherness that elude its strict parameters and inhabit a suspended, ever-shifting domain of (im)possibilities only afforded by poetry.
  • ItemControlled Access
    The Program Goes South: Australian Prose and the University, 1970-2020
    Steinberg, Joseph
    ‘Is the creative writing program’, Mark McGurl archly wonders in his landmark work of literary history *The Program Era* (2009), ‘an exceptionally *American* phenomenon?’ As he is well aware, the last half-century has seen the establishment of such programs throughout and beyond the anglosphere. If creative writing ever was an exceptionally American phenomenon, then that exception has now become the rule, in the form of a system of institutions that have shaped the careers of countless writers around the globe. This dissertation offers the first sustained consideration of how the rise of creative writing has defined the production of literary fiction in a hitherto unexamined national context: Australia. Its central contention, advanced implicitly and explicitly throughout, is that this process of institutionalization has reshaped Australian literary production in ways so diverse that an initial study of this period can only begin to grasp them. By mapping out half a century of Australian literary activity in and around the creative writing classroom, it contradicts speculative accounts of the discipline’s internationalisation that would see it as synonymous with the spread of aesthetic and ideological conformity with a wealth of evidence to the contrary. Beginning with the novelist Thea Astley, who from 1968 preached her practice at Macquarie University, its first chapter shows how her novel *The Acolyte* (1972) rewrites the Nobel Laureate Patrick White’s *The Vivisector* (1970) on terms that speak to her newfound employment. This line of influence is extended through to the writer Kate Grenville, whose acclaimed historical novel *The Secret River* (2005) was shaped by her time as a doctoral student in creative writing at the University of Technology Sydney and her reading of Astley’s *A Kindness Cup* (1974). The second section trades the continuity of influence for an opposition between truth and lies – between the minimalist inner landscapes of Gerald Murnane and the maximalist tall tales of Peter Carey – through which we can follow opposed aesthetic responses to the question of fictionality, one which underpins all creative writing instruction. The third section moves geographically west, to the Western Australian Institute of Technology, where Tim Winton launched his career as an undergraduate wunderkind in the classes of the prolific Elizabeth Jolley: this section attends to the work of novelists who have actively ‘dropped out’ of the educational system and sought in various ways to distance their fiction from it, an alternative genealogy it also tracks through the firing and flourishing of Winton’s friend and mentor, the inimitably candid Helen Garner. Finally, its fourth section returns to historical fiction with the Noongar novelist Kim Scott’s *That Deadman Dance* (2010), which he wrote as part of his doctorate at the University of Western Australia, as an illustration of the aesthetic management of research: it concludes by approaching the question of disciplinarity in Waanyi writer Alexis Wright’s *The Swan Book* (2013) and her collective memoir *Tracker* (2017), which she declares is a blueprint for building an independent, Aboriginal-controlled university.
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    Around Talk: Affect, Triviality, and Possibility in Marcel Proust, Henry James, and Nella Larsen
    Venkatesh, Vidya
    This thesis proposes a new way to encounter the fiction of Marcel Proust, Henry James, and Nella Larsen through the lens of talk. I use the term ‘talk’ to define and theorize a liminal category of expression in these texts, vacillating between the elevated, ineffable significance associated with the art of conversation and the mere inconsequence of chatter, small talk, and gossip. I contend that in Proust, James, and Larsen’s novels, this ambiguous distinction is constituted and contested in the surroundings of talk, in dynamic interactions of affect, temporality, plot, and form. My study of talk thus builds on and draws together diverse theoretical projects that foreground weak, incipient, and implicit forms of thought and feeling: the ordinary language philosophy of Stanley Cavell, the weak affect theories of Silvan Tomkins and Eve Sedgwick, the suspensive intimacies of Leo Bersani and Adam Phillips. In a series of case studies from my three authors, the chapters of this thesis explore the uncertain generativeness of trivial and minor forms of talk and seek to describe the textual forces that condition and constrain it. Throughout, I attend to the elusive capacity of talk in these novels to unsettle and speculatively revise the field of possibilities in the text. My first chapter analyzes the frustrations of digressive talk in Proust’s *In Search of Lost Time* (1913-1927) alongside the pleasures of digressive narration, seeking points of convergence between the two modes. My second chapter examines a different aspect of the relation between talk and narration in the *Search*, using gossip as a tool with which to interrogate the limits of the narrator’s expressivity. My third chapter turns to James, considering flirtation as a style of talk in James’s *The Sacred Fount* (1901) and ‘The Beast in the Jungle’ (1903) that presses against formal and interpersonal closure. My fourth chapter draws from Nathalie Sarraute’s concept of sub-conversation to test the capacity of James’s heroines, Milly Theale of *The Wings of the Dove* (1902) and the unnamed telegraphist of *In the Cage* (1898), to shift the significance of transactional events through subtle acts of aesthetic interpretation. My fifth chapter, turning to Larsen, explores the nexus of talk, taste, and identity in *Quicksand* (1928). I argue that small talk in *Quicksand* is a mode of attritional suspension between identification and rejection, resembling a kind of aesthetic self-fashioning, but mortally precarious. The thesis concludes with a coda reflecting on the non-event, the occasion when ‘nothing happened’, as an alternative approach to the uncertain possibilities that this thesis perceives around talk.
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    The Little Magazine in the US South, 1921-1945
    Round, Siân
    This thesis examines literary magazines in the American South during the ‘Southern Renaissance’, a period of cultural flourishing in the region associated with authors such as William Faulkner. This period also saw the little magazine boom, where hundreds of cheaply printed magazines with small circulations published some of the most famous authors of the twentieth century. The thesis explores how the serial form of the periodical enabled authors and editors to express their ‘Southernness’. I argue that the discourse networks of the little magazine — its opportunities for conversations, its awareness of the process of being made, its reflexive relationship with the reader — offered a testing ground for Southern editors to see what kinds of Southern identity could coexist with both American and cosmopolitan identities. Chapter One concerns New Orleans’ The Double Dealer (1921-26) and Richmond, Virginia’s The Reviewer (1921-25), two magazines which started in response to H. L. Mencken’s famous claim in ‘The Sahara of the Bozart’ (1920) that there was no culture in the South. I argue that the editors of both magazines used their platform to determine and defend their Southernness, but at the same time used the global potentials of the magazine form to cultivate a cosmopolitan identity. My second chapter focuses on Contempo (1931-34), an avant-garde, leftist magazine based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I explore how the editors resisted the liberalism of the University of North Carolina with their controversial coverages of the Scottsboro trial and how the serial form enabled Contempo to hold multiple identities simultaneously. Chapter Three examines the most famous Southern magazine of the period, The Southern Review (1935-42). Edited by Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks, The Southern Review acted as a bridge between the Southern Agrarians’ conservative politics and the New Critics’ detached aestheticism. Tracing the importance of construction and collaboration to New Critical methodology, I argue that the magazine form functioned as a monument in the eyes of the Agrarian New Critics and that this notion of monumentality shaped their attitude to tradition and in turn the pedagogy exemplified in Warren and Brooks’s textbooks. My fourth chapter takes Lillian Smith, anti-segregationist and opponent of the Agrarians, as its focus. Smith, along with her partner Paula Snelling, edited South Today (1936-45). In this chapter, I explore how Smith and Snelling cultivated an ideal reader of Southern literature in their book reviews. I then consider the publication of Smith’s stories in the magazine and how their publication shaped the bestselling novel Strange Fruit (1944). This thesis explores how Southern magazines both contributed and responded to a nationally received Southern literature and how the potentials of the serial form enabled the writing, unwriting, and rewriting of Southern identity.
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    Reading to Write: Olson's Melville
    Franklin, Robert
    This thesis offers a new account of Charles Olson’s work on Herman Melville. The argument traces the role of Melville from Olson’s MA thesis and archival research to Call Me Ishmael, through to considerations of this scholarly activity in the making of his poetry. From the 1930s and 40s to the late 1960s, Olson’s compositional practice is associated with the way Melville ‘read to write’. This thesis seeks to delimit the mood or modality of Olson’s practice of reading-to-write. Ishmael and its satellite-texts can be rethought, accordingly, as conjectural answers to the question of Melville’s persistent force in Olson’s responses to Melville. Rather than attempting to reinterpret echoes of Melville in The Maximus Poems and what it means to read the city of Gloucester, this thesis presents new research on Olson’s relation to Melville on either side of the genesis of volumes 1 and 2 of The Maximus Poems, on which existing discussion of Olson’s work has tended to focus. The introduction works through differing conceptions of what it means to read to write, situating Ishmael relative to work with resemblances to it. Olson’s work on Melville’s marginalia emerges as formative for his development as a reader and poet. Chapter 1 is on the interplay of improvisation and self-explanation in Olson’s poetry and the previously undiscussed archive of transcriptions he compiled from 1933-38. The indeterminacy and inscrutability of Melville’s marginalia led to two opposite hermeneutic orientations in sequence, the first reconstructive, the second futural. Chapter 2 is on Olson’s ambivalent relationship with Melville’s prose. This shapes his attempt to start over again with what he thought Melville had left unfulfilled or unrealized in Moby-Dick. Chapter 3 plots the breakdown of this bid to resume what Melville had, supposedly, left unfinished. Olson’s discontent with Melville’s poetry and the last chapters of Ishmael anticipate the conditions in which he wrote the last of The Maximus Poems. I delimit his belated rehabilitation of the older Melville in the later incarnation of the Maximus figure as the night-watchman of Gloucester. Chapter 4 traces Olson’s practice of self-archiving and its connection to the annotations he made in one of his two copies of John Wieners’ Ace of Pentacles. Among the annotations he wrote several poems to his wife, Elizabeth Kaiser, who died in a car crash in March, 1964. He also wrote on one page that he was writing in Ace of Pentacles like Melville had ‘on the leaf of Shakespeare’. I discuss the consequences for readings of the third book of The Maximus Poems. The thesis ends with concluding thoughts on the materiality of Olson’s poetic language, and on his practices of self-archiving.
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    Handling Bibles in the Nineteenth Century
    Sixsmith, Lucy; Sixsmith, Lucy [0000-0002-2210-7584]
    A bible, as an ink-and-paper object, may be many things: book, commodity, stock-in-trade, devotional space, work surface, recyclable stack of paper, gift, counter-gift, relic, study aid, scaffolded syllabus, unprocessed data, or a notebook. This thesis examines bibles under all these guises—bibles read or handled, mostly by evangelicals, in nineteenth-century Britain and the British Empire. In the nineteenth century, bible-reading was shaped by evangelical enthusiasm for bible distribution, developing printing technologies, and the entwined histories of mission and empire. Bibles became ever more ubiquitous, and were handled in new theological and social contexts. Evangelical culture prized the materiality of the Bible as an object, celebrating the sale of bibles by the British and Foreign Bible Society, or commending those whose reading left their bible worn and tattered. Where such volumes have survived, the marks, notes, and signs of use in them give hints about what the Bible was to its readers and users in the context of the evangelical tradition and the changes of industrialisation. My method is to examine these signs of use and reconstruct the stories behind them: a variation of object biography, or microhistory of the book. Drawing on scholarship in book history, especially on used books and marginalia, I explore some of the ways in which the Bible is distinctive, and the practices shaped by its material features as well as readers’ assumptions about the immaterial word of God that it was taken to represent. Each chapter highlights a small group of contrasting marked bibles. In the first chapter, I use a case study from the nineteenth-century prison to introduce my method. Prison reformer Elizabeth Fry’s bible has numerous neat, devotional, often somewhat personal marginal notes; bibles handled by prisoners offer an alternative angle on the meaning of use or damage. Chapter Two also spans an imbalance of power and privilege, looking at bibles specially printed and stamped by the Bible Society for distribution to formerly enslaved readers in the British West Indies. The biographies of these bibles, presented and presented back, suggest questions about the role of bibles in transaction and gift exchange. Chapter Three compares bibles from either end of the century, belonging to two missionaries, Henry Martyn and Charles H. V. Gollmer. These readers’ commitment to mission gives their bibles some similar features. But whereas Henry Martyn’s focus on translation makes his reading multi-layered, section-by-section, and comparative, Charles Gollmer’s evangelistic strategy puts pressure on the book to function like a card index, infinitely flexible, and inexhaustible. The fourth chapter thinks further about how the Bible was studied by individual readers in a context of more accessible, more affordable books. The page, as a material and conceptual feature, offered a system of scaffolding which organised the contents of the Bible for comprehension and learning. Bible publishers, and studious readers, made inventive adaptations to the pages of their books. When study made the biblical text familiar, the bible could be used differently as an object, so that my final case study examines a bible belonging to James Russell Woodford, used for sermon preparation after the work of learning had already been done. Throughout this thesis, I find that the nineteenth-century Bible can be examined as an extreme example of the nineteenth-century book—a book pushing the limits of reading and handling practices. Attending to the material evidence of bible-use illuminates the connected histories of bibles, the Bible, and the reading habits, faith, and social lives of bible users in this period.
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    Writing the New Life: Literary Form in the Spiritual Imagination of Middle-Class Ethical Socialism, 1880–1900
    Mendonck, Wanne
    This thesis examines the close relation between political and literary forms integral to the late-nineteenth century ‘socialist revival’ in Britain (1881–ca. 1906), widely marked by a belief that educationalism and propaganda, or ‘making socialists’, would be sufficient to realise social transformation. Within the ideological tendency usually called ‘ethical’ socialism, the matter of such educationalism was predominantly moral and spiritual. By combining the individual moral focus of such ‘ethical’ socialism with educationalism’s emphasis on the social effect of the ideational, a late-Victorian socialist intelligentsia morphed the cultural authority of middle-class intellectualism into the countercultural identity of seemingly ‘classless’ prophetic pioneers working on behalf of humanity, thus claiming a socialist legitimacy for the literary pursuits of the alienated bourgeois. This middle-class, ‘ethical’ socialist project ran into two key epistemic dilemmas, as it needed to negotiate the relation between, first, the individualism of its moral focus and the collectivism that powers the renegotiation of class identity; second, between the ideal nature of intellectual work and the material agency claimed for it. The thesis argues that ‘ethical’ socialists managed both dilemmas through the affordances of literary form. By constructing formal and generic hybrids, they could simultaneously gesture to the individual and the collective, to the ideal and the material. Four case studies of ‘ethical’ socialist writers provide evidence for this claim. In Chapter One, Edward Carpenter’s prose poem Towards Democracy (1883) is analysed in its self-presentation as both prophetic self-expression and the transparent reflection of a collective, extra-literary reality. In Chapter Two, novelist Olive Schreiner is seen to construct a holistic philosophy from the combination of Emersonian Transcendentalism and Darwinian materialism, formally reflected in the socialistically popular allegories of Dreams (1890). The third chapter argues that social theorist Jane Hume Clapperton’s novel Margaret Dunmore; or, A Socialist Home (1888) constitutes a hybrid of the socialist utopia and the individualist-realist bourgeois novel that fuses the ideal and the material. The final chapter analyses how three ‘ethical’ socialist New Woman writers of the 1890s, Katharine Conway, Isabella Ford, and Gertrude Dix, responded to a socialist gendering of the tension between individualism and collectivism by blending the collective symbolic semantics of allegory with the intrinsic individuality of the bourgeois-realist novel. Together, the four case studies show that literary form occupied an epistemically overcharged role within the late-Victorian collocation of class, philosophy, aesthetics, and ideology that was ‘ethical’ socialism.
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    'And That Misformed Shape, Misshaped More': The Stranger Mathematics of 'The Faerie Queene'
    Dubow, Bethany
    This thesis reframes the normative poetic terminology which (today, as in Elizabethan England) allies poetic structures with humanist cosmic and mathematical ideals: ‘number’; ‘proportion’; ‘measure’; ‘unity’; ‘harmony’; ‘symmetry’ (etc.). Arguing for ‘the stranger mathematics’ of The Faerie Queene, it proposes that this terminology, in prioritising the rational architecture of verse, has long occluded those structures (lexical, prosodic, imagistic) that manifest the more irrational and unpredictable geometries of material reality. Drawing on the tenets and tensions of sixteenth-century mathematics, as well as on those of modern mathematics and chaos theory, I show how Spenser translated the non-Pythagorean physics of space into a physics of syntax and syllables. This research revises the traditional reading of Spenserian form as obediently upholding Neoplatonist mathematics and cosmology. It also offers a new way of understanding the syntactic and prosodic foundations of poetic worldmaking. PART I, ‘Sixteenth-Century Poetics and Mathematics’, revisits the evolution of the idea of the poem as ‘world’, arguing that Elizabethan poets, emboldened by the claims of Aristotle’s Poetics, reshaped the Neoplatonist idea of poetry-as-cosmography into one of poetry-as-worldmaking. Emphasising how Plato’s Timaeus inspired the notion of a geometrically derived cosmos, it shows how humanist poets advanced an analogy between literary microcosm and mathematical cosmos: verse was ‘numbers’, metre was ‘measure’, and syllables were quantities to ‘weigh’. Freighted with religious and epistemological significance, this terminology became crucial to how humanist poets defended their poetic worldmaking. PART II, ‘Spenser’s Poetics and the Limits of “Number”’, points to the limits of this conceptual framing, revealing how Spenser and his peers struggled to organise words into quantitative schemes. It sets The Faerie Queene’s Book V word-weighing scene in the context of contemporary disagreements over how to ‘weigh’ a syllable, and in relation to Spenser’s attestations to the frustration of pinning down poetic ‘numbers’ (which, he observes, don’t so much aggregate as ‘flow’). Finally, it suggests that sixteenth-century poetic discourse, like that of music, tracked parallel developments in mathematics where a classical definition of ‘number’ as an aggregate of indivisible units was being replaced by a modern sense of ‘number’ as a continuum. PART III, on ‘Errour and Irrationality in The Faerie Queene’, posits a connection between Spenser’s half-monster, half-woman ‘Errour’ and Plato’s ‘Errant Cause’ – that recalcitrant aspect of matter which, in the Timaeus, interferes in the realisation of a perfectly Euclidean universe. I explore how halves in The Faerie Queene (‘halfe’ lines, ‘halfe’ things) seed unresolved fractions – contemporarily called ‘broken numbers’ – into the Faerie cosmos. I then show how Spenser’s use of alliteration and rhyme engenders a poetics that is errant, opportunistic, and subject to accident. If the poem’s metrical and syntactical symmetries belong to a Euclidean order that works to build a rational poetic cosmos, its proliferating networks of alliteration and rhyme enact an ‘Errant’ order which (cognate with the Errour-monster and her creatures) manifests an unruly materiality. The thesis ends with an exploration of the ‘fractal’ mathematics of Spenser’s epic. Fractal systems are dynamical and nonlinear; deterministic, yet unpredictable. While clearly Spenser could never have studied fractal geometry, fractal forms (root systems, cloud patterns, jagged coastlines) were nonetheless constitutive of the world he knew.
  • ItemControlled Access
    The nineteenth-century English dialect novel
    Thurston, Georgia
    This dissertation considers the politics and practices of incorporating regional dialects into the nineteenth-century English novel form. After roughly 1850, there is a distinct expansion of publications written in dialect in England. This is owing to both a peak in academic interest in comparative philology and publishers’ recognition of the market potential of urban working-class readers. Using writers from both working- and middle-class backgrounds from the region of Lancashire, this study argues that dialect novelists engage in a form of performative recording to compose dialect texts, wherein the success of a dialect novelist relies on both accuracy of dialect terms and a performance of authenticity. While critics have previously considered the dialect ballad and lyric, this thesis reveals the specific work that the dialect novel undertakes to present regional language. Chapter One compares the work of Edwin Waugh (1817-90) and Oliver Ormerod (1811-79), two working-class Rochdale novelists whose differing perspectives on dialect orthography provide rich ground for debate and humour. Waugh’s dynamic invocation of nostalgia in his ‘Besom Ben’ serial is accompanied by a reliance on modern print conventions. My second chapter focuses on Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) and her late novel, Sylvia’s Lovers (1863), where the novelist attempts a Yorkshire orthography for the first time in print. This chapter maps the bruising revision process that Gaskell was compelled to undertake by reader responses, as well as the productive links that can be drawn between dialect novels and dialect dictionaries of this period. Chapter Three explores Benjamin Brierley’s dialect Readings that were popular in the 1870s and 1880s, illuminating the elements of performance that were latent in his dialect prose. This chapter uses playbill and local newspaper material to analyse the politics of laughter and the mechanics involved in the staging of regional voices on the Reading platform. My fourth chapter takes the dialect novel composed away from or read at a distance from one’s region of origin as its focus. This chapter analyses the early Lancashire dialect novels of Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924), as well as Gaskell’s involvement in the Soldier’s Reading Room project. This chapter reflects on the intensely local novel form amidst increasingly global and portable print cultures. This thesis explores the value of committing local languages to print in the latter decades of the nineteenth century by putting forward considered analysis of texts and regional cultures that have previously been regarded as peripheral.
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    Leading by Example: The Pastoral Pedagogy of John Mirk's 'Festial'
    Dixon, Katherine; Dixon, Katherine [0000-0003-1250-1016]
    The prologue to the late-fourteenth-century sermon collection John Mirk’s Festial is clear in its target audience: those clerics ‘defaute of bokus and sympulnys of letture’ whose shortcomings, both in knowledge and vocational aptitude, he sought to remedy. While Mirk here directs his anxieties towards the behaviour of his colleagues, he does so with the hope that this will in turn improve the level and quality of teaching provided to their parishioners. By examining the strategies Mirk puts in place to counter the deficiencies he observed, my thesis contributes to the increased interest in the Festial that has followed Susan Powell’s EETS edition of the work in 2009, as well as recent studies of the text by Judy Ann Ford (2006), Beth Allison Barr (2008), Ellen Rentz (2015) and Laura Varnam (2018). It highlights the pedagogic and affective qualities of Mirk’s writing and explores how these made the Festial more than just an instructive text, facilitating lay devotional practice in and beyond the parish space, both by its original audiences and later readers. In Chapter One I use the Festial to situate the exemplum in its parish context. I argue that while exempla have a long and intricate history in rhetoric, preaching manuals included, the prevalence of the device in late-medieval preaching directly corresponds to the pedagogic drive of the Church that was catalysed by the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. To do so, my thesis builds upon a body of recent, predominantly French, scholarship to propose a definition of the late-medieval exemplum as a didactic tool that is best defined by its rhetorical function. I argue that the delivered context of an exemplum – its speaker, listener(s) and locus - is fundamental to the meaning it conveys and impact it has. Within this framework, I highlight the range of ways in which Mirk used exempla to facilitate a layperson’s individual, often interior, experience of - and response to - his words. In so doing, I establish that the Festial enabled a level of devotional engagement that exceeded the elementary educational expectations of pastoral reform. At a time when texts such as Walter Hilton’s Mixed Life were seeking to satiate the laity’s growing interest in spiritual development, Mirk’s sermons share a similar motivation to provide orthodox ways for a layperson to immerse themselves in their faith. Chapter 2 explores the immediate experience of Mirk’s preaching and how he cultivates an intensely engaging, somatic experience for his parishioners – both increasing their religious understanding and bolstering their faith - through the use of images, material or imagined. Chapter 3 presents the mnemonic and quasi-meditative devices used by Mirk to enable parishioners to sustain a heightened devotional state beyond the walls of the church. Chapter 4 analyses the sense of community created through positive emotion by looking in particular at the sensation of joy as a foretaste of Heaven. Finally, Chapter Five uses the Festial’s manuscript corpus to discern opportunities for, and moments of, independent engagement with one’s faith and the literary resources that fuelled it. By using evidence of contemporary interactions with the Festial, as well as analysis of the textual juxtapositions between the Festial and other works in compilation manuscripts, I propose different ways in which Mirk’s sermons may have been read by the laity. This serves to refine our current perception of the text and opens it up to new approaches.
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    Piers Plowman and the Sacraments of Nature
    McKee, Conor
    This thesis considers William Langland’s engagement with sacramenta, natural signs which manifest some semblance of the divine nature within the created universe. It makes the distinctive claim that the sacramental theology of Piers Plowman is interwoven with its natural theology, and that this relationship is the key to understanding the narrator’s epistemic progress across the poem. I argue that Will’s ability to draw supernatural knowledge from natural signs at the rhetorical climax of the narrative is the fruit of an epistemic journey led by grace and participation in the sacraments of the Church. For Hugh of St Victor, a key figure in the history of sacramental theology, all of creation was thought to have some ‘sacramental’ significance that humans might be drawn to interpret mystically or allegorically. This idea has its origins in Christian Platonism, including Alexandrian logos theology. It found its most influential expositor in pseudo-Dionysius who married the Platonist ideas of ontological participation and the natural mystical sign with the ecclesial sacraments of Christian ritual. Both Hugh and Dionysius conceived of the ritual sacraments as mediators of man’s relationship with God and particularly of man’s ability to perceive God within the natural order. The introduction outlines my overarching argument and explains some of the central claims of medieval sacramental theology alongside their scriptural sources. It also explores biographical and historical question which are foundational to my arguments about philosophical influence. It critically synthesises existing debates about Langland’s identity and reaches the conclusion that the author of Piers Plowman was probably a clerk in minor orders. Sources for Langland’s learning are postulated in the light of this identification, which increases the likelihood that he encountered sacramental theology. As well as reviewing existing secondary research, it presents new bibliographical evidence on the circulation of works of pastoral theology. Chapter two establishes that three crucial ideas are carried over from Dionysius into medieval sacramental theology: ontological participation, sacramental mediation, and the natural mystical sign (or ‘natural sacrament’). This account of the Christian Platonist tradition reveals the interconnectedness of natural and sacramental theology. It shows that these ideas were transmitted to the late Middle Ages, especially by Hugh of St Victor. Another strand of the chapter is its identification of Augustinian ideas about creation and the nature of evil that I later argue are reflected in Langland’s pessimism about cognitive faculties. In chapter three, I argue that the current settled critical view that Langland has a Chartrian theology of nature is misguided. Among other objections, I highlight that Langland is too sceptical about the ability of the fallen intellect to ‘read’ nature, and this is at odds with the more optimistic Chartrian outlook. I see Langland’s view of nature as a synthesis of Augustinian pessimism about the effects of the Fall and Dionysian optimism about the redemptive power of the sacraments. This synthesis matches Hugh’s integration of Augustine and Dionysius in his De sacramentis. In chapter four, I substantiate these claims further with a close study of Langland’s theology of nature as it is presented through his personification Kynde. My reading emphasises that Langland is attentive to the negative epistemic consequences of the Fall when he writes about nature, and that his narrator cannot adequately comprehend God in nature with his own unguided faculties. Even outside of the degenerative effects of the Fall, there remains the metaphysical problem of the ontological gap that stands between creator and creation, which means that a primarily intellectual pursuit of God in nature is likely to prove fruitless. At this stage, I argue that Langland’s Dionysian and Victorine sacramentalism provides an answer to his pessimism about Fallen nature (which was explored in chapter four). It shows that nature can be redeemed by grace channelled through material signs. It also offers an alternative explanation for how humans might ‘read’ nature, one that locates this capability in participation and the mediation of signs (in contrast to the intellectualist Chartrian view rejected in chapter three). It addresses the problem of the ontological gap through mediation and grace. Chapter five thinks about the restorative power of Penitence encountered by Will and a very similar figure called Hawkyn (B.XIII-XIV). It also considers the inner experience of sacramental participation which involves the will, affect, grace and virtue – especially the virtue of patientia which is dramatised by Langland’s character Patience. Chapter six argues that the narrator’s participatory engagement with Penitence has restored Will’s ability to see God in nature. Just as Dionysius, and later Hugh of St Victor, had suggested the natural mystical signs of the world could be elucidated through participation in the ecclesial sacraments, so Will now finds the ability to discern the Trinity in natural objects. The climax of my thesis is a close reading of what I take to be the poem’s theological and sacramental zenith: a revelation of the Trinity through analogic interpretations of the human hand and fire (in B.XVII). Before I reach this natural sacramental moment, I look at the interlude between the reception of the ecclesial sacrament (B.XIII-XIV) and the revelation of God in nature. Here, I emphasise the need to cooperate with grace in order to participate in the sacrament; something I take to be allegorised by the ‘Tree of Charity’ sequence. Patientia remains important here, but so is caritas. This is a supernatural love kindled by grace which enables the penitent to remain in a state of grace. The attention to the mechanics of grace in Piers Plowman reflects the influence of Hugh of St Victor and later pastoralia on Langland. Although the influence of Dionysian Platonism is crucial to my argument, I also believe that Langland engaged with these ideas in the light of later works of theology that have their own independent emphases. As well as looking back over this epistemic journey, my conclusion comments on the Dionysian ideas of apophasis and cataphasis. It suggests that they can help us to appreciate the role of the apparently impenetrable mystery of the true definition of Dowel, Dobet, and Dobest. I conclude by reflecting on my methodology and the advantages to engaging with the History of Philosophy in literary scholarship.
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    Knowing and Understanding the Past in Mid-Eighteenth-Century British Historiographical Thought
    Levinson, Ephraim
    My thesis asks how eighteenth-century philosophers, historians, dramatists, and literary critics engaged with two major themes of historiographical thought. Chapters 1 and 2 address an epistemological question: how does one come to believe that what one reads in a history is true? Chapter 1 reviews an array of Scottish Enlightenment philosophers’ comments on reading and writing history. Most of the relevant scholarship focuses on David Hume, arguing that he proposed a vivid writing-style is needed to secure belief, and therefore that history threatened to be indistinguishable from well-written fiction. I suggest instead that for Hume and Adam Smith a reader’s belief does not lie in the text of a history at all; rather, it is founded on their trust that a history is what it claims to be. But can historical fact only be believed when it has the generic backing of history? Chapter 2 looks first at the claims made in the 1760s by Robert Wood and Hugh Blair for the epic poems of Homer and Ossian to be read as veracious historical narratives. It then suggests that a dramatic adaptation of Ossian – John Home’s 'The Fatal Discovery' (1769) – makes a case for theatre as a mode of historiography by appropriating the scenographic changes made by David Garrick during the 1760s. While Wood and Blair developed inventive arguments to show that rhetorical qualities within the texts could guarantee their historicity, ultimately they appealed to the social context within which they supposed the epics were composed in order to suggest that they were – and could now be – understood as historiography. Chapter 3 introduces the second theme, which concerns the charge of universalism levelled against Enlightenment historiography. In the corpus of the Scottish Enlightenment minister and historian William Robertson, I track a dialectic of universality and diversity which enables him to understand difference while maintaining a sense of the uniformity of human nature – particularly the human mind – against polygenist and degenerationist theories emerging in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe. Through his historiography, I argue, he formulated a pluralist moral and political philosophy which bears comparison with the more-discussed theories of his contemporaries, like Smith. Nonetheless, Robertson finally affirmed the superiority of Christianity as a way of life. Like Scottish Enlightenment historiography, literary historicism has been accused of universalism and rationalism, and in Chapter 4 I assess the validity of these charges by studying Richard Hurd and Thomas Percy. I contrast Hurd’s and Percy’s lesser-known work on global literature, identifying an exclusionary universalism in Hurd and a more Robertsonian approach in Percy. I then turn to their treatments of past English literature, paying special attention to the complex negotiations of likeness and difference, continuity and change, that figure in their works on their ‘native’ tradition. Throughout this thesis, I demonstrate the ethical, political, and social ramifications of historiographical thought. I conclude by suggesting that the writings I discuss might be considered ‘sociable historiography’.
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    Adaptations of the Beautiful: Natural Theological Aesthetics from Paley to Darwin
    Stowell, John
    The goal of this thesis is to reassess our understanding of Charles Darwin’s theory of beauty by tracing the history of a distinctive aesthetic philosophy within the British natural theological tradition. I propose two new critical concepts as a way of characterising the common features of this aesthetics: “correspondency” and the “conceptual regime of the ontology of enjoyment” [CROE]. Correspondency is a term borrowed from the work of William Whewell, and aims to capture a universalised logic of adaptation as it was developed within the design argument and subsequently used to describe the aesthetic relationship between the sensorium (subject) and aesthetic object. CROE encapsulates how the sui generis pleasures of aesthetic experience were granted a distinctive ontological reality by this relational or adaptive model. On this foundation, I will argue that natural theological aesthetics offered a way of understanding beauty in terms of a non-Kantian teleological model – a purposeless purpose of design (or, in Darwinian sexual selection, evolution). In the first chapter I trace this theory from William Paley, through to the Bridgewater Treatises and several further authors in the 1830s, exploring how the theory of beauty in these texts might be understood as a transformation of the aesthetic sense theory of the eighteenth century (a tradition exemplified by Francis Hutcheson). In the second chapter I explore how this theory was developed through the 1840s and 50s, a period that marked the increasing ascendancy of anatomical idealism within both natural theological and natural philosophical disciplines. I chart how the teleological implications of natural theological aesthetic theory allow us to rethink the relationship between the functional teleology of Paley or Cuvier, and the idealism of figures such as Richard Owen or the young Huxley. I will argue that figures associated with morphological thought utilised the same aesthetic theory and arguments as the natural theological adaptationists they critiqued, and so CROE remained a durable structure of thought across apparently contradictory paradigms. Indeed, this durability provides leverage to reassess the way in which this entire division has been historically narrated. The second part of my thesis concerns the work of Charles Darwin, and how the public theory of beauty he developed between 1859 (the first edition of the Origin) and 1868 (the first edition of Variation Under Domestication) might be understood as a response to – and transformation of – this natural theological aesthetic theory. First, I explore Darwin’s early response to the teleological ramifications of beauty, and then turn to the polemical context of the Argyll dispute as it forced Darwin to develop a more coherent aesthetic theory. I will show how Darwin’s developing account of beauty took up the structure of CROE in order to naturalise the teleological challenge of intrinsic aesthetic purposiveness. Sexual selection provided a way to explain the aesthetic correlation between subject and object, with animals selecting for the conspecifics they found beautiful, and so materialising the ideal of their faculty of taste within the world itself. I will, however, argue that sexual selection was not the totality of Darwin’s aesthetics, and analyse how Darwin offered a classification of different kinds of beauty based on the teleological implications of various natural forms. Alongside the real aesthetic purposiveness produced by sexual selection, Darwin offered an ontologically deflationary account of extrinsic or accidental attributions of beauty, securing his argument from contemporary critique as it continued to read Darwin’s works in terms of a natural theological tradition of aesthetic theory.
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    The Aphoristic Moment: Modernist Literature and the Quotable Self
    Huhne, Peter
    Peter Huhne The Aphoristic Moment: Modernist Literature and the Quotable Self Abstract I want in my thesis to consider the work of four writers working in or alongside canonical Anglo-American modernism, whose writing can better be appreciated if situated within the rubric of the aphoristic. Not seeking to advance a new theory of the aphorism, and not seeking either to suggest a vision for it that complicates an established view of a conservative form, my thesis starts by claiming just such a conservatism as the basis of its appeal to Oscar Wilde, who saw in it both an encapsulation of his theory of secluded artistic autarky and an instrument for this very autarky’s furtherance. Wishing to see Wilde as breaking away from the truly decadent model for writing advanced and practiced by Walter Pater, my thesis proposes the aphorism as a central tool in this rupture, asserting a hardening of selfhood’s integrity in the face of such social and environmental claims as might be made on it. My thesis foregrounds the way in which aphorisms, in promising a vision of sentences assured of their own frontiers – and functioning, within whatever textual body houses them, as discrete plots of their own – provided for Wilde a space wherein his artistic persona could most forcefully be developed and reproduced. The advantage of framing this tendency as a ‘moment’ will be made plain, since I want in my second chapter to figure Henry James’s decidedly non-aphoristic late fiction, particularly The Wings of the Dove, as a response to the idea that standalone sentences could or should be used to contain selfhood. I make the case for James as asserting a pragmatist contingency about stable boundaries that organises around the idea and practice of the parenthesis – with its momentary hardenings, framed as realisations, that are then folded back into the wider text – as a response to the aphorism’s prefigured sense of closure: and how, in The Wings of the Dove, such distinctions are dispersed, character to character, such as to assume a moral valency in those who live by them. The following chapter, on Wallace Stevens, showcases a poet with many of the sympathies of James, yet one nonetheless captivated by that very aphoristic boundedness disparaged in James’s writing. Too often understood – even by those emphasising Stevens’s pragmatist affinities – as a valve for energies not accommodated in his wider procedures, the aphorism emerges from this chapter as the site of that temporary and oblique assertion of poetic presence that is literary pragmatism’s hallmark, and a hallmark of Stevens’s poetry more widely. Finally, my thesis devotes a chapter to considering Ronald Firbank as a writer whose sentences are best understood not as truncated versions of larger texts – for such claims for Firbank’s fragmentariness are made by commentators who would figure him a neglected high modernist – but genuine reversals of the aphorism’s terms of trade. Looking, not as Wilde does, to make the unfamiliar familiar, but to make the familiar newly strange, Firbank’s innovations are thus seen as the real legacy of Wilde’s preferred stylistic vehicle.
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    The Mosaic Negative: Ahrt-Voik and Antisemitism in Ezra Pound's Work and Thought
    Pinto, Chloe
    This thesis investigates the relationship between artwork and antisemitism in Ezra Pound’s work and thought, arguing that Pound’s anti-Jewish prejudice was inextricably entwined with his views on artwork and the socially conscious artist. My first chapter opens by examining Pound’s Vorticist writings, focusing on how his method of Luminous Details reworked typological and historiographic traditions positioning the figure of the Jew as the anti-type of Christ and the artist. I also foreground the representation of national categories and typographical articulations of racial types in Pound’s early poetry. My second chapter turns to Pound’s ideas of visual culture as filmic, Fascistic and ultimately antisemitic, taking his draft propaganda film script Le Fiamme Nere (1932) as an important insight into this development. By bringing the draft into dialogue with the poet’s Rome Radio broadcasts from 1941-1945, the extent of Pound’s commitment to naming the Jews as his cultural enemies across different propagandistic projects emerges. In my third chapter I explore the interplay between the ambiguous emergence of American identity and Pound’s antisemitism in the Middle Cantos, including Pound’s concerns over printed banknotes, Stamp Scrip and even volumes of his own poetry. Next comes a chapter on Canto 35, the most important insight into the complex Poundian relationship between Jewish artists and the production of ‘ahrt-voik[s]’ in The Cantos (35/174). The fifth chapter of my thesis details Pound’s relationship with the Jewish sculptor Heinz Henghes, using material drawn from archival resources and accounts of their time together in Rapallo from 1934-1936 and discusses the impact on Pound’s poetry. I conclude my thesis by unpicking the triangulation between Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Leo Frobenius and Italian Fascism following the Italian Race Laws of 1938 as expressed in Guide to Kulchur (1938) and the official Italian Fascist propaganda magazine La Difesa Della Razza. For Pound, the Jewish artist ultimately emerges as the ‘Mosaic negative’ of Mussolini-as-artifex, the enemy of culture and clear definitions.
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    Alienation and Dwelling: The Pursuit of Happiness in Late Eighteenth-Century Literature
    Hobday, Alexander
    During the enlightenment a subjectivist concept of happiness became prominent and remains so today. This view, in which happiness is a mental state, instantiates a tension between happiness and ethics, happiness and reality, because it juxtaposes an inward condition with outward objectivity. This thesis argues that this conception is rooted in a zeitgeist of alienation, characteristic of certain strands of Enlightenment thought. Alienation can be defined as a failed relationship between self and world, self and other, the self and itself. In contrast to alienation, this thesis also explores the alternative zeitgeist of dwelling. Broadly speaking, this can be associated with the Romantic response to the Enlightenment. In dwelling, happiness, rather than being an internal mental state, tends to be conceived of as positive relationality. Happiness is a series of positive relationships between self and world, self and other, the self and itself. The introduction to the thesis draws upon the philosophy of Aristotle, Martin Heidegger, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Charles Taylor in order to articulate these two central concepts more fully and to situate them within eighteenth-century intellectual and socio-political history. The main body of the thesis explores how four writers — James Boswell, Laurence Sterne, Mary Wollstonecraft, and William Wordsworth — respond to alienation in their respective works. All four of them might broadly be described as autobiographical writers and have been chosen because, in writing the self, they seek to think through the alienation that typically threatens modern selfhood. Chapter one argues that James Boswell exhibits two alienated conceptions of happiness. The first, ‘aesthetic happiness’, is explored in his London Journal. Inspired by Joseph Addison, Boswell views happiness in terms of his capacity to imaginatively project beautiful images onto the world, in a manner intended to embellish dreary reality. The second, ‘principled happiness’, pursued in Boswell in Holland, requires that Boswell make his life over in accordance with a set of strict moral principles. Both of these, I argue, involve an over-investment in a particular conception of representation. Chapter two turns to Laurence Sterne, whose Tristram Shandy discloses a notion of ‘hobby-horsical happiness’. Sterne satirizes objectivity as dogmatism, pointing out that all knowledge emerges from within a particular perspective. As such, facts and values are not truly distinct. In resisting dogmatism, Sterne seems to support an extreme form of subjectivism, where everyone lives according to their own whims. The chapter goes on to explore whether or not there can be any escape from this hobby-horsical idiosyncrasy. The third chapter explores Mary Wollstonecraft’s grappling with alienation and her articulation of the possibility of dwelling. In the Rights of Men, Wollstonecraft argues that if society were to be reconstructed in accordance with the rational-metaphysical laws of the universe, then, virtuous happiness would become possible for all. After the French Terror, her faith in reason fails and, taking a Romantic turn, she places her hopes for progress on the imagination. In Short Residence, alienated by what she views as the atomizing tendencies of commerce, she argues that the imagination can restore the relationship between self and other, human beings and nature. In doing so, human beings might recover a sense of dwelling. However, as Wollstonecraft becomes increasingly depressed, she begins to write of the imagination in escapist terms. After surviving a second suicide attempt, she writes ‘On Poetry’, now vesting a muted faith in progress in the figure of the poet. The final chapter explores Wordsworth’s great-decade poetry. Central to this work is a myth which describes how a primordial or childish receptivity to nature is superseded by the mind’s power to impose its will upon nature, that is, to reconstruct the natural world. Wordsworth hopes to once again dwell in nature’s presence, while maintaining this mental power. This is not easily accomplished, however. The chapter traces a persistent tension between nature’s presence and mind’s power, one which is replicated in two different conceptions of happiness: blessedness and Stoical ataraxia. The chapter concludes by exploring an analogous tension in Wordsworth’s understanding of language and representation. This is interpreted through the lens of Heidegger’s notions of techne and poiesis. The thesis concludes by reflecting upon the ways in which technicity influences our contemporary approaches to happiness and instead argues for the benefits of a poietic approach to the good life.
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    Inanimating Matter: The Aesthetics of Putrefaction in Early Modern English Literature, 1580-1660
    Heinrichs, Lydia
    This thesis examines representations of decaying organic matter in early modern English literature. The ubiquitous preoccupation with processes of organic dissolution and decay in the poetry, prose, and drama of the years 1580-1660 has often been understood to reflect this period’s pervasive anxieties about mortality and the mutability of the flesh. In this thesis, I argue, by contrast, that the slimy, dusty, vermiculated, and otherwise putrefactive remains of the organic body detailed so energetically in numerous early modern texts, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the natural histories of Francis Bacon to the sermons and poetry of John Donne, manifest instead a paradoxical awareness of matter’s inorganic animacy—an ontological and aesthetic generativity immanent in matter’s very formlessness. Drawing on recent scholarship emphasising the profoundly embodied nature of early modern interiority, I place the period’s fascination with processes of organic decay in the context of broader epistemological concerns about the relationship between outward form and interiority in this period; the body’s internal processes of dissolution, manifested especially vividly in the putrefaction of the corpse, suggest to early modern writers a conception of inner being as fluid, formless, and yet generative process—a process continually producing material forms in excess of the identities represented by the body’s static outer appearance. In my introduction, I explore the striking parallels between this conception of materiality and those of three twentieth-century materialist philosophers: Julia Kristeva, Georges Bataille, and, especially, Gilles Deleuze, whose theory of affect or intensity offers this thesis its central insight into the aesthetic and ontological generativity of material process. The central chapters of the thesis focus on three early modern writers: Edmund Spenser, John Donne, and Thomas Browne. Chapter One, ‘Spenser’s Slime: Indistinct Matter in The Faerie Queene’, studies that poem’s pervasive fascination with spontaneously generative muck, arguing that slime, mud, and mire offer the poem a powerful image of its own formless yet fertile materiality. In Chapter Two, ‘“Perplex’d Discomposition”: The (In)animacy of Dissolution in the Writings of John Donne’, I suggest that Donne’s notorious obsession with the putrefaction, dissolution, and atomisation of the human corpse, evident in his poetry, sermons, and devotional writings alike, reflects not his anxieties about the annihilation of identity in death, as literary critics have frequently maintained, but his fascination with matter’s ‘posthume’—its posthumous and posthuman—aesthetic fertility. My final chapter, ‘“Living Corruptions”: Thomas Browne’s Equivocal Materiality’, focusses on Browne’s late essay Hydriotaphia, whose unsettling meditation on the forms assumed by matter as it decays—incrassated gellies, saponified fats, equivocally generated serpents—evince what I will term an aesthetic of the putrefactive sublime. Throughout the thesis, I will be concerned with the ways in which these literary texts might themselves embody the formless forms they describe, dissolving structure into indistinct process, organic totality into fertile putrescence.
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    Writing Resistance in the Three Punjabs: Critical Engagements with Literary Tradition
    Kazmi, Sara
    This dissertation analyses post-colonial Punjabi writing on the left as a critical engagement with literary tradition that re-interprets tropes of resistance embedded in popular, oral genres to articulate political critique in the contemporary. Drawing on Punjabi texts from India, Pakistan, and Britain, I show how this corpus constitutes an imaginative geography of an un-Partitioned Punjab by re-working regional oral texts like the Hir qissa, the Bulleh Shah kafi, and the var of Dulla Bhatti. However, this turn to regional roots can by no means be read as a nostalgic paean to a pristine pre-colonial past. Instead, these post-colonial interpretations of literary tradition are informed by resistance against the oppressions of caste, class, patriarchy, race, dominant religion, and statist authoritarianism. Thus, my readings of Amrita Pritam, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti, Gursharan Singh, Najm Hosain Syed, Ustad Daman, Sant Ram Udasi, Niranjan Singh Noor, Ajmer Coventry and Avtar Singh Sadiq highlight the centrality of contestation and resistance to the living Punjabi literary tradition. I focus attention on how Punjabi intellectuals continued to resist and defy the physical, conceptual, and political borders that empire and post-colonial state alike sought to entrench, de-provincialising Punjabi writing and connecting it with wider debates around decolonisation, feminism, Marxism, revolutionary culture, anti-imperialism, and popular struggle in the global South. More broadly, I draw on this selection of Punjabi writing to explore the relationship between tradition and modernity, and orality and print culture, interrogating the link between pre-colonial pasts and post-colonial futures in visions of liberation.