English and American Literature
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Chair and Committee
This dissertation explores the tensions between an empirical epistemology and an intuitive method of knowing the world as depicted in popular Victorian novels. These narratives attempt to assimilate alternate modes of understanding; however, the uneasiness of the relationship between empiricism and intuition speaks to larger cultural tensions about the possibility of reconciling fact and feeling in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. I argue that intuitive and imaginative modes of cognition are continually privileged in novels that explicitly claim to adhere to empirical forms of knowledge. As I examine the work of Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins, and George Eliot, my project traces what I suggest is a particularly Victorian desire to empirically account for the material facts of the world and a simultaneous reluctance to abandon a sense of moral certainty that can be maintained only within the realm of instinct and intuition.
Taylor, Brooke, "Accounting for Mysteries: Narratives of Intuition and Empiricism in the Victorian Novel" (2010). All Theses and Dissertations (ETDs). 343.