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Title: In-betweenness : knowledge and love in late-Victorian culture
Author: Sanna, Antonio
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2008
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Abstract:
This thesis analyses the relationship between knowledge and love in late-Victorian culture. It argues that love, considered as secondary throughout the rest of the nineteenth century, came to be seen as equally fundamental as rational knowledge in the life of the single individual and for the development of the whole society. Previous critics have not pointed out in detail that many thinkers of the fin de siecle affirmed that feelings, and particularly love, constituted a source of knowledge as valuable as that furnished by reason (constituting the basis of the nineteenth-century ideas of science and the scientific method of analysis of reality). In the same respect, love came to be seen as central in all debates regarding sexuality and the ethical life of the individual. These discourses on love were, however, set against as much as accompanied by rational attempts to describe and understand the reality external and internal to human beings. This is what represents in-betweenness: the moments and situations in which two terms usually considered as opposite come to have an equal place and consideration. I will therefore analyse in detail the conception of rationality and knowledge as formulated by the scientific naturalists, agnostics and the British idealists during the 1880s and 1890s as well as their ethical interest in human feelings as dictated by science's inability to furnish any definitive and ultimate knowledge. Subsequently, I will examine the discourses on love (love as a new knowledge to be spread to the general public in order to bring about the betterment of the entire society) advocated by the period's feminists and homosexual apologists. The two themes of knowledge. and love will be specifically drawn together when studying the works of English spiritualists and of the members of the Society for Psychical Research. My original argument consists in a reading of these works as moved by both a rational method of analysis of the ghostly apparitions and a very human need (prompted by the feeling of love) to contact the lost loved ones. This specific argument will then be extended to my analyses of literary ghost stories of the fin de siecle, which continually refer to knowledge and love as the central themes involved in the apparition of a ghost. In this thesis, ghosts are considered as the very epitome of inbetweenness, as capable of breaking the boundaries of many different opposite terms and therefore exemplifying the in-betweenness which characterizes the whole period under consideration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.502225  DOI: Not available
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