Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. Peter Walmsley
This dissertation explores the ground of, and practices of self-reflexivity behind, the often polemical contemporary debates that surround research practices and methodology in humanities and social sciences historiography. I focus on the unexamined reciprocity between conceptions of history and the linguistic and imagistic practices of remembering that affect and produce historiography in the eighteenth century: despite the identity of their epistemological foundation, in the long eighteenth century, "history" and "memory" begin to function as diverging truth-claims. By the end of the seventeenth century, John Locke's well-known articulation of tabula rasa--itself a divergence from the remarkably stable medieval and renaissance conceptions of memory as "storehouse" and tabula rasa--signals an epistemological shift in forms of objectivity and, consequently, the subject;s experiences of her/his interiority. I analyze aspects of the effects of this emerging epistemology on eighteenth-century thinkers' reconstructions of the "social body". Across a number of authors' works and forms of representation--William Congreve's drama, Mary Willstonecraft's political argumentation, picturesque theory and representation of nature, Locke, Hume, and Joseph Priestly's philosophical debates, and William Blake and Laurence Sterne's literary works--I attempt to trace significant shifts in the relation of "memory" and "history." Throughout the chapters I focus on the relation of linguistic strategies of representation to shifts in various kinda of social and personal formations: from gender roles and political or cultural forms, to interpretations of causality, agency, and avenues for social change.
McConnell, Will, "Ruin, Memory, and the Social Body in Augustan Literature" (1998). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1145.