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Bibliographic record number: 531521


Author: Domines Veliki, Martina
Title: Constructions of the Romantic Subject: William Wordsworth and Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Type: doctoral thesis
Faculty: Filozofski fakultet
University: Sveučilište u Zagrebu
Location: Zagreb, Hrvatska
Date: 16.09.
Year: 2011
Page: 280
Mentor: Gjurgjan, Ljiljana Ina
Keywords: constructions of the romantic selfhood; memory; search for origins; place; state of nature; agrarian humanism; patriotism; romantic representations of gender
The thesis “Constructions of the Romantic Subject: William Wordsworth and Jean-Jacques Rousseau” deals with the romantic subject from a number of different theoretical approaches: post- structuralist, phenomenological, new historicist and feminist. It focuses on Wordsworth’s and Rousseau’s autobiographical works: Home at Grasmere, The Prelude and The Excursion in the case of Wordsworth and The Confessions, Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques or The Dialogues and Reveries of a Solitary Walker in the case of Rousseau. However, it is not limited to these works as, through the comparative research, it aims to gain a broader view on the complexities of their oeuvre. The thesis departs from the idea that Wordsworth and Rousseau wanted to formulate a unified, autonomous subject through their autobiographical endeavours. However, such formulation becomes an illusion since the unified sense of the self has to be accomplished through the medium of language. Thus, ‘the self’ recognized as an epistemological construction does not refer to a natural, privileged, unified psychological condition, but rather to a historically constituted set of idea and assumptions whose referents are dispersed within language (Jay). Having shown the difficulties in the textual constructions of the romantic self, the thesis examines in what ways autobiography reasserts itself in relation to certain romantic well- established loci classici such as time, place and people (public and personal history). Furthermore, the thesis argues that the self as a process and a place is central to the overall romantic meditative art (Stelzig). Thus, the romantic ‘myth of memory’ (Bloom) is revealed as a form of nostalgia for the lost natural state, the best time that can be placed in everyone’s childhood experiences and recuperated through the contact with nature. Such search for origins is therefore seen as an attempt at fictional recovery of a plenitude, of a unity of being (Derrida). Since memory is also perceived as a place, the thesis traces the importance which locality occupies in the construction of the romantic selfhood. Place, in fact, becomes more than a mere locality, it becomes integral to the very structure and possibility of experience (Malpas). Furthermore, the thesis examines the extensions of the individual into the collective self. Wordsworth’s work is full of allusions to and representations of socio-historical phenomena in their conjunctions with poetic subjectivity, most obviously in its inscription of the French Revolution (Simpson). In that sense, the French Revolution is taken to be the central event, triggering a crisis of Wordsworth’s consciousness. His inclination toward revolutionary ideals was largely indebted to Rousseau and, though disappointed in the aftermath of the revolution, Wordsworth remained faithful to these ideals until the end. Finally, in trying to see how Wordsworth and Rousseau dealt with pre-established gender myths sensed at the heart of Western literary patriarchy, the thesis examines three modes of their representation of the feminine: the colonization of the feminine domain of sensibility, the relationship between the male narrative voice and the female character and the elevation of masculine imagination over feminine nature.
Project / theme: 130-0000000-3482
Original language: ENG
Research fields:
Contrib. to CROSBI by: (, 22. Lis. 2011. u 23:35 sati

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