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Date of Award

3-1989

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

D. Goellnicht

Language

English

Abstract

The thesis concerns the question of Coleridge's readership as it pertains to Coleridge's prose and specifically to Biographia Literaria. The introduction presents the question of Coleridge's reader as it has been applied in recent scholarship, where, in relation to the problem of the Biographia's integrity, the Biographia's digressions and tropes have been construed as ironic gestures inviting participatory reading. Chapter one discusses Coleridge's views on readers and reading and introduces Coleridge's attacks on the reading public. The chapter points out that Coleridge's views on readers and reading are essentially authoritarian; there is no room in his view for participatory reading and the role of the reader is largely marginal. In the context of the conclusions of this chapter, Coleridge's treatment of the reader in the Biographia is a strategy for asserting the author's authority over the reader and for consolidating a suitable audience. Chapter two points out the overtly political authoritarianism of Coleridge's concern with readers and the reading public. Despite his insistence on the recognition of rational critical consensus, Coleridge's views function on behalf of established political power. In the context of the conclusions of this chapter, Coleridge's treatment of the reader in the Biographia is reactionary.

McMaster University Library

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