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Title: Creative collecting in the romantic period : parts into wholes
Author: King, Andrew David
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores the relationship between collecting and literature in the work of a selection of Romantic writers. Its primary aim is to consider the ways in which collecting can lead to literary creativity. Secondary to this concern are related questions about how collected objects and texts are reconstituted in such a way as to create new wholes; how writers sought to define themselves and their age through their collections; and whether or not a collection can transcend the sum of its parts. Both the Introduction and Chapter One establish a conceptual framework for my readings by outlining recent developments in the emerging field of 'Collecting Studies' and recent works on literature and collecting. Each of the four chapters that follow focuses on a particular type of literary engagement with collecting. Chapter Two examines the debates about artistic creativity and the state purchase of the Elgin Marbles and explores how these debates led to a new kind of thinking about the value and use of collections. This chapter sets up the notion of collecting leading to creativity in a national context by drawing upon parliamentary debates as well as debates in popular poetry of the time illustrating just how widely argued these ideas were. Chapters Three and Four move on to focus on a specific writer and collector, Sir Walter Scott. Together they argue that Scott's literary identity is fundamentally bound up with his identity as a collector. Chapter Three takes poetry as its focus and discusses how Scott's collection of ballads in The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802-3) provided the impetus for his own poetic career. Chapter Four builds on this and explores the relationship between Scott's material collection at Abbotsford and his prose fiction. Together these two chapters chart Scott's career from collector to someone who was widely considered to be a creative genius by his contemporaries. Chapter Five explores the notion of using a collection in order to define one's own age. The example here is William Hazlitt's collection of biographical writings, The Spirit of the Age; Or, Contemporary Portraits (1825). The chapter also asks whether or not a collection can transcend the sum of its parts. The writers discussed here have been chosen because their work is underpinned by the principles of collecting. By considering their work in this light we can develop a fuller understanding of the relationship between collecting and literary activity .
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available