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Coleridge and Satire in the 1790s

NORMAN, DANIEL,LOVELL (2020) Coleridge and Satire in the 1790s. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 23 November 2021.

Abstract

This thesis examines the development of Coleridge’s attitude to satire over the 1790s, arguing that a consistent set of methods and principles may be perceived across his satirical writing. Though often dismissed as trivial jeux d’esprit intended for light relief, or partisan lampoons motivated purely by pecuniary gain, Coleridge’s satirical pieces in fact reveal a much greater degree of careful thought than might first appear. Focusing particularly on the years between 1795 and 1800, but also making reference to earlier and later writing, the thesis contends that Coleridge consistently sought to address particular concerns about contemporary satirical practice. Part One contends that these concerns drew upon eighteenth-century moral philosophy to assess the ethical consequences of the kind of ridicule and raillery that was ubiquitous in the 1790s political press. Coleridge voices a concerted critical response to the satirical work of political figures like John Thelwall, articulating his concerns in both his prose commentaries and his own satirical efforts. After establishing the importance of this early political context to the formation of his views on satire, the thesis will trace their development over the subsequent years. By 1797, where Part One ends, the rigour of his early response to contemporary satirists had begun to subside, and, during his time at the 'Morning Post' (the focus of Part Two), Coleridge increasingly accepted many of the satirical tropes and techniques he had earlier critiqued. Yet despite this gradual shift, his early views do not fade entirely from his satire. The thesis concludes by arguing that Coleridge’s encounters at the end of the decade with German literary criticism, and particularly the work of G. E. Lessing, crystallised his incipient attitude to satire into a form that would influence his writing for years to come.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Satire, Coleridge, 1790s, Humour, Journalism
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Nov 2020 13:10

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