Thesis ID: CBB001560649

The Embodied Imagination: British Romantic Cognitive Science (2013)


Robertson, Lisa Ann (Author)

University of Alberta (Canada)
Miall, David

Publication Date: 2013
Edition Details: Advisor: Miall, David
Physical Details: 379 pp.
Language: English

This dissertation examines the intersection of British Romantic literary and scientific cognitive theory from 1749 to 1818. Asserting that William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge participated in cognitive science debates initiated by Joseph Priestley's popularization of David Hartley's physiological theory of sentience, it argues that the dual lenses of British empiricism and twenty-first-century cognitive science best explicate the poets' theories of imagination. The poets' philosophical positions are often understood as a progression from youthful fascination with empiricism to mature transcendentalism. Examining their work in relationship to the cognitive hypotheses of contemporary scientists--Erasmus Darwin, Humphry Davy, and Tom Wedgwood--this study demonstrates that their theories reconcile materialist and transcendentalist epistemologies. I use a cognitive historicist methodology to examine categories of experience that New Historicist critics have considered in terms of transcendentalism. I argue that both poets and scientists saw transcendental experiences, such as encounters with the sublime, in terms of embodied emotion. Enaction, a twenty-first century cognitive theory, exhibits similar fundamental premises as Romantic hypotheses about the relationship between mind, matter, human beings, and the natural world and the importance of emotion in cognition. This thesis examines parallels between contemporary and Romantic-era cognitive science discourse, helps resolve certain longstanding cruxes in the scholarship on Wordsworth and Coleridge, and brings to light overlooked scientific figures in Romantic culture whose intellectual contributions are important to Romantic literary theory.


Description “Examines the intersection of British Romantic literary and scientific cognitive theory from 1749 to 1818.” (from the abstract) Cited in ProQuest Diss. & Thes. . ProQuest Doc. ID 1319516160.

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Authors & Contributors
Butler, Judith
Largier, Niklaus
Francois, Anne-Lise
Lilley, James
Kuiken, Kir
Floyd-Wilson, Mary
Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
English Language Notes
Ethics, Place and Environment
Journal of the History of Biology
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Cambridge University Press
Edwin Mellen Press
Stanford University
University of Iowa
University of Chicago
University of California, Berkeley
Science and literature
Poetry and poetics
Medicine and literature
Wordsworth, William
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
Darwin, Erasmus
Blake, William
Priestley, Joseph
Darwin, Charles Robert
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
Great Britain
British Isles
London (England)

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