Theories of Vision in the Works of Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth

Project: DissertationIndividual research project


I am investigating the treatment of visual processes in the works of William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, as well as the extent to which these texts can be seen to participate in a wider Romantic debate about the metaphysical nature of perception. In my dissertation, I will argue that these writers portrayed vision as a process through which transcendent meaning can be acquired through empirical means, thus rejecting both the alternatives of passive Enlightenment empiricism and of pure, inward-looking subjectivism. I will focus on a number of different ways through which vision is conceptualized in these works, with a particular focus on the way in which the transcendent component is defined, and relate them to concurrent philosophical theories from which they may have been derived, or to which they may have been intended as a response. In a wider sense, this project is intended to call into question the view that Romanticism constituted an 'inward turn' away from the world, and to advance the thesis that these early Romantics sought actively to engage with external reality, albeit in a way that could plausibly be reconciled with their goal to recapture transcendent values.
Effective start/end date2018/09/01 → …