Date of Thesis

Spring 2018

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Major

English

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

Literary Studies

First Advisor

Alfred Siewers

Keywords

Romanticism, Coleridge, Imagination, Eriugena, Blumenbach, Darwin

Abstract

My thesis seeks to provide a new understanding of Coleridge’s imagination and, consequently, his poetry, by considering his study of science and theology, particularly through the writings of J.F. Blumenbach, Erasmus Darwin, and Johannes Scottus Eriugena. Contextualizing my study within Coleridge’s evolving engagement with pantheism, my thesis will examine: 1) how Coleridge’s incorporation of Blumenbach’s theory of generation, Darwin’s imitation theory, and Eriugena’s concept of nature informed the poet’s ideas about the relationship between nature and the mind; and 2) how, from this incorporation, Coleridge developed a theory of poetic creativity that culminated in his highly influential definition of the imagination in the Biographia Literaria. Methodologically, I will focus specifically on the intersections of Coleridge’s scientific studies and theology, and, in doing so, I will rely on the scientific writings Blumenbach and Darwin, Eriugena’s De divisionae naturae, and Coleridge’s marginalia, letters, and notebooks. By examining how Coleridge’s theory of the imagination is informed by science and medieval theology, I aim to provide a new understanding of Coleridge’s definition through the concepts of eighteenth-century creativity.

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