Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Alan Vardy

Second Advisor

Kelvin Black

Academic Program Adviser

Janet Neary


Enlightenment emphasis on rationalism in philosophy and the arts prefigures Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s and William Wordsworth’s Romantic recovery of a subject’s empirical relationship to nature and the phenomenal world. Coleridge and Wordsworth respond to philosophical precedents that emphasize rationalism and the autonomy of a subject while introducing empiricism and sensation as primary components of the speaker’s experience. The poets delineate a fluid shift from the Enlightenment to Romanticism through an interchangeable reliance on Kantian and Burkean philosophical methods. The philosophy of Immanuel Kant follows the Cartesian cogito toward a similar end of reducing human experience to circumstance bereft of empirical influence or evidence. This thesis explores the interactions and contradictions of the interplay of affective power, psychology, and vacillating Burkean and Kantian aesthetic moments in a selection of poems and other writing by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.



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