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Title: Physical conclusions? : an exploration of [dis]continuities in Thomas Vaughan's [al]chemical tracts
Author: Roberts, D. I.
Awarding Body: University of Wales, Lampeter
Current Institution: University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Date of Award: 2001
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Studies of Thomas Vaughan (1621-1666) have previously examined areas of syntactic convergence with his brother Henry Vaughan's poetry. This dissertation explores the stylistic characteristics of Thomas Vaughan's tracts in their own right. Internal and external textual evidence indicates the importance of the Polish natural philosopher Sendivogius (1566-1646) to Vaughan's epistemology. Similarly archival material found at the Hartlib Papers Project [Sheffield University] indicates that Vaughan may have undertaken experiments following the influence of Sendivogius and the principles of J.B. van Helmont (1557-1624). The bearing of these natural philosophers upon Vaughan's work is explored. Simultaneously Vaughan's authorial reputation with an elucidation of his work is considered through biographical enquiry. Already the Hartlib Papers Project has indicated Vaughan's collaboration with Thomas Henshaw (1618-1700), a member of the then nascent Royal Society. Henshaw was introduced to the Hartlib circle by the American Dr Robert Child (1613-1654). Prefatory material by the translator John French (1617-1657) indicates Child's friendship with Vaughan and the nexus of chemical associations both biographical and theoretical is examined with recourse to the Hartlib Papers and materials held in the Royal Society's library along with Thomas Vaughan's private and unpublished memoranda. Vaughan's writing is delineated through an examination of its relationship to other 'chymical' literature. In particular Vaughan's literary methodology is contrasted with that of the plagiarist John Heydon (fl. 1667). Analysis of Heydon's writing is particularly fruitful as it elucidates grounds for identifying an emergent alchemical genre which both Heydon and Vaughan react to in divergent ways. The cohesion of theory and its articulation across treatises is examined as is the plurality and stability of narrative tools employed by Vaughan. The critical process of locating textual contemporaneity and the concomitant re-historicisation of Vaughan in tandem with an assertion of his writing's occult signification underpins the problematised and distinctive nature of Vaughan's public writing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Vaughan ; Thomas ; 1621-1666--Studies ; Vaughan ; Thomas ; 1621-1666--Criticism and interpretation ; Alchemy in literature