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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01br86b617j
Title: Unnatural Feelings in Nineteenth-Century Poetry
Authors: Tuckman, Melissa
Advisors: Fuss, Diana
Contributors: English Department
Subjects: English literature
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation describes some encounters with unnaturalness in the work of three nineteenth-century writers: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. It focuses in particular on the idea of an "unnatural feeling," an emotion whose source or effect is other than natural. This inquiry grows out of an engagement with Immanuel Kant's claim, in the Critique of Practical Reason, that the complex feeling "humiliation-respect" has a special status, as a non-pathological affect which awakens moral desire. I find that these writers share Kant's interest in the possibility of a moral or unnatural feeling, and I ask whether that desire might be in some way connected to their affection for poetry, a form of writing which subjects "natural" (or unreflective) human speech to artificial procedures. My first chapter notes the frequent recurrence of scenes of interpersonal embarrassment throughout Emerson's writing. I distinguish between two kinds of shame in Emerson's anti-systematic body of work: an alienating, existential shame, and an elevating humiliation, on the Kantian model. My second chapter argues that in Dickinson's poetry, "disdain," a word derived from the courtly-love traditions of the middle ages, does philosophical work: it names humanity's inevitable unnaturalness. I also show how Dickinson's notion of the "tropic" largely anticipates Walter Benjamin's theory of allegory, as an anti-metaphysical and a denaturalizing literary form. My third chapter considers Hopkins' desire to be infused by a supernatural patience. I argue that Hopkins' late sonnets lack patience, and adduce some erotic and political causes for their formal distortions.
URI: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01br86b617j
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog: catalog.princeton.edu
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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