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Title: A reassessment of the work of Arthur O'Shaughnessy
Author: Kistler, Jordan
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844-1881) was the author of four collections of poetry published between 1870 and 1881, as well as a naturalist in the British Museum from the age of nineteen until his death. The volumes of poetry attracted critical attention at their publication, but his enduring legacy has been restricted to a small number of anthologised poems. If remembered today, it is as the author of the ’Ode’ which begins ’We Are the Music Makers’, the iconographic ’minor poet’ thus named by T.S. Eliot in ’What is Minor Poetry?’, a weak follower of poetic trends, or a shadowy bit player in a Pre-Raphaelite drama. This thesis argues that O’Shaughnessy’s life and work are of greater significance than has yet been acknowledged. My readings of his work suggest that rather than being an imitator of literary giants, O’Shaughnessy was an innovator in several avant-garde literary movements, developing a distinctive poetic voice of his own. I also argue that his life is of greater significance than previously adjudged for its transitions between the scientific cultures of the museum and the poetic circles which he was more eager to inhabit. In this thesis I argue that O’Shaughnessy’s life enables us to establish the relationship and barriers between the ’two cultures’ of science and literature during this period. As a frequently anthologized, selected, and excerpted poet, the picture that has been created of O’Shaughnessy over the years is fragmented and uncontextualised. Through analysing O’Shaughnessy’s published writings, including a series of scientific papers that he authored, and his unpublished writings, including correspondence, poetic manuscripts, and scientific notebooks, I seek to establish the patterns of influence within his own life and works, and to recontextualise him as a innovator of the ’poetics of the everyday.’ This work reads O’O’Shaughnessy as an ideal representative of the culture of the period in which he wrote.
Supervisor: McDonagh, Josephine ; Turner, Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available