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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29908

Title: Boundless Explorations: Global Spaces and Travel in the Literature of William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley
Authors: Willis, Alexander J.
Advisor: Bewell, Alan
Department: English
Keywords: Romanticism
William Wordsworth
Percy Shelley
Mary Shelley
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2011
Abstract: This dissertation focuses on a Romanticism that was profoundly global in scope, and examines the boundary-crossing literary techniques of William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley. These authors saw identity as delimited by artificial borders, and we witness in their work competitions between local and global, immediate and infinite, home and away – all formulated in spatial terms. This thesis argues that by using motifs and philosophies associated with “borderless” global travel, these authors radically destabilized definitions of nature, history, and the home. Wordsworth and the Shelleys saw the act of travel as essentially cosmopolitan, and frequently depicted spaces outside of familiar boundaries as being rich in imaginative vitality. Their fiction and poetry abounds with examples of North American primitivism, radical modes of transportation, and unknown territories sought by passionate explorers. Importantly, they often used such examples of foreignness to rejuvenate familiar spaces and knowledge – these were individuals determined to retain a certain amount of local integrity, or connection with the reluctant minds who feared alien contexts. As such, they were each aware of the fragility of embedded minds, and the connection of these minds to bordered historical contexts. Aware of the dangers posed by uninhibited imaginative movements, they depicted travel as an artistically seductive activity. Their impulse as authors was thus to use global experiences as a tool of literary expression, while refraining from a total abandonment of local responsibility. This dissertation therefore argues that the imaginative experience of space in the Romantic period was profoundly split, tethered on the one hand to custom and familiarity, and on the other aspiring to boundless global freedoms.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29908
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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