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‘To Keep Alive the Heart in the Head’: Versions of Transcendence in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Poetry 1796-1817

TAI, SHUET,YIN,SHARON (2019) ‘To Keep Alive the Heart in the Head’: Versions of Transcendence in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Poetry 1796-1817. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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My thesis explores the concept and manifestations of Transcendence in selected poems and prose written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge between 1796 and 1817. Amid the dissenting atmosphere in Britain, in the wake of the French Revolution, religious Truth is rigorously contested by Romantic writers and thinkers. For Kant, Transcendence is displaced by Transcendentalism in order to separate speculative reasoning from rational metaphysics. Aspiring to defend religious Truth, Coleridge feels the need to keep the transcendent faith in a living God alive in ways that find congruence with transcendental philosophy. Accordingly, Coleridge explores the meaning of Truth in his writings and seeks to salvage Religion from being sheer dogmatism or superstition. Tracing different versions of Transcendence across the development of the term’s transformation in Coleridge’s thoughts and poetry is central to my reassessment of the religious and spiritual aspects of the Coleridgean Imagination.
My Introduction explores the dual meanings of ‘Versions of Transcendence’ in terms of the critical approach adopted in this thesis and its content. Chapter one focuses on ‘Religious Musings’, ‘The Eolian Harp’ and ‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’ to demonstrate Coleridge’s Theism and his concept of Transcendence in the late 1790s. Chapter two and three explore the ways in which Original Sin can be viewed as the impediment of Transcendence in ‘The Ancient Mariner’ and ‘Kubla Khan’ during the period 1798-1804. Chapter four and five argues for the compatibility between Transcendence and Transcendentalism in ‘A Letter to——’, ‘Dejection: An Ode’ and ‘To W. Wordsworth’ during the 1800s. Chapter six explores Coleridge’s struggles to reconcile the Fall with God’s benevolence in Christabel (1816). Chapter seven offers a coda to the thesis and suggests through a discussion of Biographia Literaria (1817) that, for Coleridge, the highest (sublime) worth of the human mind is to know the invisible God through an intuitive knowledge accessible through the Imagination.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Transcendence; Transcendentalism; poetry; imagination; versions; religion; reason; philosophy; theology; Immanuel Kant; Spinoza; George Berkeley; William Wordsworth; Sara Hutchinson; French Revolution; post-Enlightenment; Religious Musings; The Eolian Harp; Effusion; This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison; Original Sin; The Ancient Mariner; Kubla Khan; A Letter to—; Dejection: An Ode; To William Wordsworth; Christabel; Biographia Literaria; The Wanderings of Cain; John Milton; The Passion; At a Solemn Music;Epistemology; Plato
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Aug 2019 15:01

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