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The Wordsworthian Inheritance of Melville's Poetics

Goehring, Cory R (2010) The Wordsworthian Inheritance of Melville's Poetics. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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It has become commonplace among both Melville and Wordsworth critics to recognize a basic ambiguity or contradictoriness in each artist's writing. In this project, I find the roots of that tension in each artist's concept of the imagination and the process of poetic creation. More importantly, I find that Melville's concept of art, as reflected in his magnum opus Moby-Dick and substantiated in his poetry, reveals a basic affinity with Wordsworth's Imagination.Specifically, my project traces the lingering elements of Wordsworth's concept of the poetic process in Melville's writing, particularly focusing on two important and complex relationships in that creative process: 1) the implicit paradox of activity and passivity in a poetics that assumes at its heart inspiration, and Wordsworth's particular devotion to preserving rather than reconciling that paradox; and 2) the role of society in a creative process that seeks to privilege individual genius while ensuring the social efficacy of the workings of that genius. Here emerging at the center of my study—not surprisingly—is an engagement with The Whale, in which I offer a reading of Moby-Dick as a text that, at least in part, is occupied with the process and position of the artist.In paying particular attention to the evidence of a close relationship with Wordsworth in Melville's conception of art, I am not as interested in the question of literary influence as I am in demonstrating that Melville struggled with many of the same questions regarding art and creation that are evident in Wordsworth's own writing. In seeking connections between Melville's literature, particularly his poetry, and Wordsworth, my transcontinental project reveals a concern with the role of the artist in society—a question of the responsibility of the artist that is importantly enduring, despite the years and distance between the writers.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Goehring, Cory Rcrg23@pitt.eduCRG23
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairArac, Jonathan
Committee MemberEvans, Fred
Committee MemberGubar, Marah
Committee MemberGlazener, Nancy
Date: 30 September 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 19 May 2010
Approval Date: 30 September 2010
Submission Date: 27 July 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Melville; Wordsworth; Clarel; Moby Dick; Prelude;
Other ID:, etd-07272010-094541
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:54
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:47


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