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Title: Selfhood, boundaries, and death in maritime literature, 1768-1834
Author: Robertson, James Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 2653
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis interrogates the role of the sea’s agency in the construction and mediation of selfhood in travel narratives and poetry from the period 1768-1834. The sea in these texts functions to challenge and modify selfhood, both of seafarers and those mourning the loss of someone at sea. Its instability and inherent hostility to human life positions it as a threat, requiring a response in order to preserve the self. These challenges to selfhood are presented as a series of boundaries that are either crossed or reinforced. The sea facilitates travel that literally crosses boundaries – longitude, latitude, and nation, for example – as well as reaffirms them, such as the need for the solid footing of ship or shore to survive. Present in all these engagements with the sea is death, positioned as the final boundary to be transgressed. In chapter one the journals of Captain Cook and Sir Joseph Banks are interrogated to expose the influence the sea has on selfhood during voyages of exploration, and how it influences Cook’s legacy. It also explores the potential connection between the journals and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem ‘The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere’. Chapter two explores the sublime in the narrative of John Byron, before looking at its function and the agency of the sea in the nautical poems of Lord Byron. Chapter three investigates the topic of elegy in the poetry of William Wordsworth, looking at whether, as a poetic form, the elegy can function as a grave for those who are lost at sea. Chapter four continues this interrogation of elegy in the works of Louisa Stuart Costello and Charlotte Smith. In the conclusion, I draw together these threads, using the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley to demonstrate the effect the sea’s agency has on selfhood.
Supervisor: Higgins, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available