The rhetoric of feeling: S.T. Coleridge's lectures on Shakespeare and the discourse of 'philosophical criticism'

Ruttkay, Veronika (2006) The rhetoric of feeling: S.T. Coleridge's lectures on Shakespeare and the discourse of 'philosophical criticism'. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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My thesis explores what kind of work is performed by affective terms such as 'passion', 'excitement', or 'poetic feeling' in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's lectures on Shakespeare. While Coleridge might be regarded as a fore-runner of twentieth-century critical trends such as formalism and reader-response criticism, his interest in different forms of emotion in connection with poetry links his thought to theoretical concerns of his own and of the immediately preceding age. I situate Coleridge in the context of British 'philosophical criticism' in the second half of the eighteenth century, a critical discourse that had paid particular attention to problems related to the role of feeling in literary language. I argue that Coleridge's interpretations of Shakespeare and the critical stance they articulated both continued and challenged important aspects of this critical tradition. The Introduction offers an overview of the problem of feeling and (poetic) language in Coleridge's thought, followed by a definition of 'philosophical criticism', its reliance on Shakespeare and the productive tensions between 'feeling' and 'philosophy' that characterise it. The Introduction ends with a survey of recent scholarship. I proceed in the first chapter with an analysis of Coleridge's lectures as 'performances', that is, as events grounded in the lecturer's performance of immediate thought and feeling in front of his audience, generated by his encounters with the Shakespearean text. The second chapter deals with Coleridge's theory of Shakespearean poetry as expounded in the lectures, focussing especially on 'passionate' aspects of language and on the connections Coleridge establishes between these and bodily movement, gesture, tone, and rhythm, as well as 'embodied' or 'performative' uses of rhetoric. In the third chapter I continue to explore the ways in which Coleridge extends the scope of the New Rhetorical concept of passionate language by pushing back its pre-established limits. The fourth chapter compares Coleridge's often dismissed character criticism with the 'philosophical analysis' of character developed by William Richardson, a Scottish philosophical critic whose latest publications appeared at the time of Coleridge's lectures on Shakespeare. Here I aim to point out some of the philosophical and moral underpinnings of Richardson's and Coleridge's concept of 'character', and their respective stances towards passion and analysis. In my discussion, I will sometimes refer to Coleridge's play Remorse, staged in 1813, that is, in the middle of his lecturing career. Coleridge's interest in theatre can be recognised throughout his lectures in several of his statements on Shakespeare and passionate language, especially since he often thinks about the expression of feeling as inherently theatrical. In the last chapter I turn to Remorse in order to show how some major concerns of Coleridge's lectures - with the rhetoric of passion or the analysis of character - appear in his own play, and how his play casts a new light on those concerns. With Remorse, Coleridge crosses the divide between philosophical reading and poetical creation; however, the play also reveals the persistence of philosophy in Coleridge's work, not only in the form of his grounding assumptions, but also as a problem to be 'staged' in drama. By reconstructing Coleridge's exchanges with earlier philosophical critics - most importantly, with Kames, William Richardson, Alexander Gerard, and Joseph Priestley -1 intend to highlight aspects of his critical practice that have rarely received sustained attention. In doing so, I also offer an interpretation of the complicated and often ambivalent role of feeling in Coleridge's criticism. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Rhetoric, English literature.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Cronin, Prof. Richard
Date of Award: 2006
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2006-71040
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 May 2019 14:28
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 18:52

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