"Our Little Systems Have Their Day": Tennyson's Poetic Treatment of Science

dc.contributor.advisor King, Rebecca en_US
dc.contributor.author Shearer, Emily Carroll en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Gentry, Larry en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Melton, Tammy en_US
dc.contributor.department English en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2014-06-02T19:07:54Z
dc.date.available 2014-06-02T19:07:54Z
dc.date.issued 2014-03-27 en_US
dc.description.abstract Cultural studies approaches identify all texts as arising from cultural contexts, and as such inform the methodology of this study of Tennyson's poetry as mediating conflicting truth claims by aesthetic and spiritual spheres and materialist and empirical spheres of thought. John McGowan's description of modernity suggests a way of reading Tennyson's poetry as evidence of his involvement in an ongoing discussion involving competing claims to totality by these epistemologies. Tennyson was from early days interested in science, keeping abreast of current thought at Cambridge, and being elected to the Royal Society. While critics often see aspects of Tennyson's work as the complaints of an increasingly pessimistic, personally disappointed old man, this study suggests that his poems instead display his engagement with major epistemological issues in which he and others express distrust of the totalizing claims of science and materialism. en_US
dc.description.abstract This dissertation analyses poems written during various points in his career that deal with these issues. Chapter 1 discusses historical and cultural contexts of Tennyson's poems. Chapter 2 analyzes "The Palace of Art," an early poem, as displaying his concerns with astronomy and its implications regarding creationist accounts of the cosmos in terms associated with the great chain of being metaphor and its principles of unity and perfection. It also reflects concerns with the second law of thermodynamics regarding its theories of entropy and death. Chapter 3 analyzes In Memoriam as it addresses natural evolution in terms of what Darwin would later term "survival of the fittest" and in which Tennyson ultimately reaffirms the immortality of the soul in evolutionary terms. Chapter 4 examines "Locksley Hall" and "Locksley Hall Sixty Years Later," written forty years apart, and their reflections of Tennyson's adaptations of evolutionary theory to account for what the later poem marks as increasing cultural decay. Finally, Chapter 5 analyzes "The Higher Pantheism," "Parnassus," and "By an Evolutionist" as late poems that reveal persistent attempts to validate the aesthetic and spiritual as necessary contexts for understanding experience as illuminated by science. en_US
dc.description.degree Ph.D. en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://jewlscholar.mtsu.edu/handle/mtsu/3692
dc.publisher Middle Tennessee State University en_US
dc.subject Aesthetics en_US
dc.subject Empiricism en_US
dc.subject History of science en_US
dc.subject Spirituality en_US
dc.subject Tennyson en_US
dc.subject Victorian poetry en_US
dc.subject.umi British and Irish literature en_US
dc.subject.umi Literature en_US
dc.subject.umi History of science en_US
dc.thesis.degreegrantor Middle Tennessee State University en_US
dc.thesis.degreelevel Doctoral en_US
dc.title "Our Little Systems Have Their Day": Tennyson's Poetic Treatment of Science en_US
dc.type Dissertation en_US
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