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Title: American romanticism and the idea of light
Author: Thwaites, Sarah Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 364X
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis argues that the technical and aesthetic appropriation of light in American Romantic literature draws on a network of relations between time, space and subjectivity that is specifically linked to the invention of photography. It argues that, after the Enlightenment, after its advances in the scientific comprehension of light and colour, there followed a comprehensive philosophical and artistic re-evaluation of light and its properties. The appropriation and mediation of light by art in this period is informed by new understandings of its reflective and colouring properties, and directed by new constructions of the relation of light to darkness. Most significantly, the thesis describes a relocation of the creative power of light from God to the artist and the individual, and an incumbent transformation of its association with omniscience towards new notions of individualism, subjectivity and perspectivism. It argues for the historical and the technical specificity of photographic processes, and so for photographies over photography. Part of the exploration of this specificity entails an enquiry into the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth picturesque mode, and the specific dynamics that it initiated between the observer and the observed across several arts. Similarly, the thesis argues that Daguerreotypy, when properly understood as a medium of art, has a critical role in the reconfiguration of relations between the arts specifically related to a new, intermediary idea of light. It concludes that the American picturesque mode is fundamental to the appropriation of `photographic' techniques in the visual writing of the period and, more specifically, shows that Daguerreotypy actuates the American Romantic way of seeing and describing
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available