This item is under embargo and not available online per the author's request. For access information, please visit http://libanswers.wustl.edu/faq/5640.

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

English and American Literature

Language

English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 9-1-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

William McKelvy

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the lively interchange between Victorian literature, the science of language, and liberal politics. I argue that Victorian authors used language-science, the study of the origins and nature of human speech, as a powerful model for engaging the diminishing status of hereditary rule and the rise of popular sovereignty. Philologists and natural scientists presented a new understanding of language as a self-enclosed, evolutionary system. This autonomy of language, in turn, mirrored Victorian Britain's emerging liberal society, with its emphasis on self-governance and laissez-faire economics. While previous scholars have characterized Victorian language-science as depoliticized and reactionary, I show how works by Thomas Carlyle, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Tennyson, and the lesser-known but fascinating Darwinian poet Mathilde Blind draw on language-science to explore the redistribution of political power in the age of reform.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.7936/K7C827C0

Comments

This work is not available online per the author’s request. For access information, please contact digital@wumail.wustl.edu or visit http://digital.wustl.edu/publish/etd-search.html.

Permanent URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.7936/K7C827C0

Available for download on Saturday, September 01, 2114

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