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Title: Alexander Pope and the vocabulary of Augustan criticism
Author: Jones, T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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My thesis traces connections between late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century literary criticism, contemporary literary criticism and the poetry of Alexander Pope. I look at four topics: visual art, gender, finance and history. The thesis shows how vocabulary associated with each of these topics is used in Augustan literary criticism, contemporary literary criticism and Pope's verse. Vocabulary associated with the first three topics is frequently used in Augustan literary criticism to evaluate and judge literary works. In contemporary literary criticism, these vocabularies are used to provide a context in which to explain and criticise literature: the images produced by literature, the way in which literature relates to gender and gender politics, and the effect of economics on the production of literature are the dominant concerns of much of this writing. Augustan literary criticism is closely connected to the study of history, so closely that often no distinction is made between the two. Much recent criticism is also concerned to see literature as the product of historical forces. Pope wrote verse on all four of these topics. By offering readings of the relevant poems, I show how one of the fundamental questions of literary criticism, how meaning is produced in writing, may also be profitably put to the contextual material which literary criticism often provides as an answer to that question. I present the study of literature and literary criticism as the study of meaning. The thesis offers a summary of contextual approaches to Pope and to poetry in general, and presents much new work on the modes of Augustan literary criticism. It substantially alters the standard characterisation of the early eighteenth century as dominated by Locke's linguistic philosophy, analyses a broader and more challenging set of philosophical approaches to language, and demonstrates in close readings of verse the sophistication and seriousness of the poetic works of Pope and many other Augustan writers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available