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Title: Aspects of science in the works of Donne and Milton
Author: Stone, Christopher John
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis exploits the tendency within the early modern period for intellectual eclecticism in order to understand how educated renaissance figures understood the nature of knowledge. Through a detailed study of how both John Donne and John Milton interpreted, acknowledged, and assimilated the understanding gained through their scientific reading and interests into their artistic, literary, and philosophical writings, this thesis outlines a variety of the period’s reflections on the nature of knowledge. Amongst these philosophies, questions of the permissibility of gaining access to information, hierarchical relationships between the knowledge accessed through emergent scientific practices and established literary traditions, and the influence of modern technology upon the quality (and even the trustworthiness) of learning gathered through such endeavours act to establish a collection of academic strategies which early modern intellectuals used to help them navigate the rapidly expanding landscape of knowledge. In pursuing the areas outlined above, the thesis uses an innovative chronological methodology which – whilst fairly common amongst Milton studies – is unusual in the field of Donne scholarship. The predominantly chronological methodology offers several benefits to the thesis. Notably, it allows for the progress and development of ideas over the lives of both writers to be examined. Furthermore, this methodology causes texts to be read according to their merit rather than their arbitrarily assigned ‘historical importance’. Thus, the thesis offers new and detailed readings of texts covering the breadth of Donne and Milton’s respective corpuses selected for their value to the thesis’s remit. It is for this reason that the thesis offers extensive readings of not only major canonical works such as Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, ‘The First Anniversary’, and Donne’s Sermons but also affords the same level of attention to Ignatius His Conclave, and Milton’s Commonplace Book. The chronological methodology also causes a heightened focus upon intertextual readings within the thesis – with prose and poetry considered alongside each other so as to produce a richer and fuller understanding of the respective authors’ canons that is not limited by genre. The thesis, ultimately, offers two intersecting case studies of educated individuals which – in some areas – offer a broader understanding of how the emergence of new areas of knowledge and new classifications within the panorama of human learning were interpreted, managed, and accommodated.
Supervisor: Brennan, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available