Thesis Title: Forms of Unknowing in Victorian Poetry
Supervisor: Professor Matthew Bevis
Research Interests: Victorian literature; poetry of the long nineteenth century; literary form and epistemology; literature and philosophy; literature and theology; literature and psychology; the Victorian reception of the Renaissance; dream literature.
Doctoral Research: I work on nineteenth-century poetry and its interactions with philosophy, theology, and psychology. My thesis focuses on the ways in which the pursuit of knowledge is frustrated or eschewed in Victorian poetry, exploring how knowing may be imagined as consolation or trap, encounter or possession, stimulus or hindrance to inquiry. By showing how poets across the period (Robert Browning, Arthur Hugh Clough, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Alice Meynell, and Thomas Hardy) were invested in these questions in distinct and often highly sophisticated ways, I consider what is lost and gained in the process of knowing, the many kinds and degrees of ignorance, and the dramatic and rhetorical opportunities of hidden knowledge. My aim is to reveal how some of the period's best writing, though extraordinarily diverse in subject and style, is engaged in a shared enterprise: the search for poetic forms to give shape to the experience of thinking and perceiving in the shadow of the unknown.