Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In Xenoromanticism: On an Ethics After Individuality, I examine the work of Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Mary Shelley, and Walter Scott to demonstrate how Romantic literature wrestles with the dilemma of identity itself. To do this, I contextualize the well-established concept of Romantic alienation within a theoretical framework that foregrounds the ethical ramifications of the individual’s tendency to settle into comfortability with essentialized categories, the most crucial of these being its own interpellated subjectivity. In Chapters One and Two, “The Monstrous Naturans” and “Symptom and Self in the Lyric,” I first attend to the Romantics’ preoccupation with the (de)generative power of vitalism to document their anxieties about humanity’s lack of mastery over its environment, as well their awareness of the inherent instability of ontological concepts such as the body and the self. I then proceed to show through a re-reading of the sublime how lyrical poetry coalesces as a Lacanian symptom that attests to the imperious subject’s failed territorialization of the impenetrable object-world of the Real.” In the final two chapters, “Keats’s Deep Ruth” and “Ruth at Number Seven,” I attend to a major gap in scholarship on Keats’s allusion to Ruth in “Ode to a Nightingale” to shift focus to the ethical implications of the above arguments. I look to Keats’s letters to demonstrate his association of Ruth with Jesus, Socrates, and his sister-in-law Georgiana, arguing that Ruth embodies the “disinterestedness” that founds the moral philosophy of Keats’s mentor William Hazlitt. I then address Keats’s understanding of the parallels between Ruth and the figure of the British Gypsy to elucidate how Ruth emblematizes the critical power of alienation against the antagonism inherent to self-interest and against the threat of ideological capture. Through Ruth, Keats envisions a radical deference to the Other that might subvert the stultifying conditions of modernity, even if in the end his faith in the viability of such a project is not absolute.
Alexandre, Nicholas James, "Xenoromanticism: On an Ethics After Individuality" (2024). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 6339.
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