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Transatlantic Romanticism: The English Romantics and American Nineteenth−Century Poetic Tradition\ud

By BASSYOUNI RAGAA AMAL HUSSEIN

Abstract

This thesis explores the Romantic origins of nineteenth-century American poetic tradition; it looks at the relationship between the English Romantics and major nineteenth-century American poets. My research focuses on the Romantic lines of continuity within nineteenth-century American poetry, identifying them as central to the representation of American cultural and literary identities. American poets shaped their art and national identity out of a Romantic interest in their native nature. My study particularly explores the diverse ways in which major American poets, of this time, reacted to, adapted and reformulated Romantic ideals of nature, literary creation, the mission of the poet and the aesthetic category of the sublime. It traces connections and dialogues between American poets and their Romantic predecessors, including Blake, Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Shelley. This thesis is inspired by the strong and abiding academic interest in Romantic studies, and aims to advance new readings of nineteenth-century American poetry in a transatlantic literary and cultural context. It attempts to cover a wide range of nineteenth-century key poetic works in relation to Romantic visions, ideals and forms. Developing a chronological line of enquiry, my thesis highlights the paradox of writers seeking to establish an original, distinctive American literary canon while still heavily deriving ideas and techniques from other, non-American sources. \ud An introductory chapter outlines the historical and cultural framework of the Anglo-American literary relationship, focussing on its sensibilities, tensions and affinities. Chapter two considers how Bryant and Longfellow reformulated the Romantic pastoral tradition in their representations of American landscape, which helped toward shaping a peculiar national poetic canon. Through examining Emerson’s poetic achievement in the light of the Romantic tradition, chapter three challenges Emersonian claims of originality and self-reliance. Chapter four addresses Whitman’s Romantic preoccupations and interests alongside his groundbreaking innovations manifested in his attitudes towards nature, human body and urban landscape as well as his experiments with poetic language and form. Chapter five attempts to interpret the seeming idiosyncrasy of Dickinson’s work in the light of the poet’s dialogues with her Romantic precursors. Above all, this study examines how Romanticism worked upon the minds and art of nineteenth-century American poets, aiming to provide refreshing interpretations of nineteenth-century American poetry in the context of the broader transatlantic Romantic tradition. \u

Topics: Transatlantic Romanticism, American Poetry, Anglo-American Literature.
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.dur.ac.uk:3197
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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