Rachel Kays

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




John Ferns




Sara Coleridge was a woman whose voice was not radical enough to forge an immediate place in literary history. She clung, not expecting to be recognized, to the words of her father, yet she is present in her fairy tale, Phantasmion (1837), silently persisting and invoking her own literary resurrection. In working to establish a modem context for Sara Coleridge's fairy tale, my thesis attempts to rescue fantasy from its exile in never-never land and to incorporate it into contemporary conversations about gender and identity. After discussing Romantic ideas of fantasy and subjectivity, I intend to examine the heritage of the feminine Romantic writer, tracing her paternal influences in an attempt to work towards situating and recovering a feminine Romanticism, that is at once tied to and yet distinct from that more prominently associated with the "big six," male Romantic poets. Challenging the criticism that seeks to prevent Sara Coleridge from attaining a distinct literary identity, I will approach her through the 'kaleidoscopic' lens of fantasy, through the mirror of her fairy tale, Phantasmion (1837). A conservative, female writer, Sara Coleridge employs the fairy tale to subversively explore alternative modes of gendered identity and experience. Featuring disembodied characters, the fairy tale genre enables Sara Coleridge to disengage herself from patriarchal restraints on the body. A metaphor for the female quest for identity, the fairy tale genre reveals, in its handling by Sara Coleridge, a less glamorous, but perhaps equally subversive member of feminine Romanticism.

McMaster University Library

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