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The politics of pity in eighteenth-century fiction

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TypeOfResource
Text
TitleInfo (ID = T-1)
Title
The politics of pity in eighteenth-century fiction
NonSort
The
Identifier
ETD_1645
Identifier (type = hdl)
http://hdl.rutgers.edu/1782.2/rucore10001600001.ETD.000051372
Language
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eng
Genre (authority = marcgt)
theses
Subject (ID = SBJ-1); (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Comparative Literature
Subject (ID = SBJ-1); (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
English fiction--18th century--History and criticism
Subject (ID = SBJ-1); (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Sympathy in literature
Abstract
While pity had been seen traditionally as an untrustworthy rhetorical effect, beginning in the late seventeenth century, it is celebrated as a powerful and authenticating affect. My dissertation examines the historical rationale for the "rise" of pity in the eighteenth century and the ways in which its new sociopolitical status inspires formal innovation and alternative visions of ethical communion in contemporary literature. Anxious about change but eager to develop a vision of human nature and social coherence antithetical to the Hobbesean version, a growing number of writers made pity both the highest moral value and the central telos of aesthetic experience.
Pity's defenders came to see in pity a providentially designed reflex built into the human body, a natural law of commonality, like gravity, that could draw otherwise hierarchically differentiated and self-interested individuals into a unified field of intimacy and social consensus. Pity, many felt, could transform suffering into a vehicle of spiritual reformation, social communion, and private moral orientation in a time of rapid change. As the century progressed, an increasing effort to define its parameters suggests that pity had become a dangerously flexible category. Recent critical efforts have typically treated eighteenth-century pity as having one of what I argue are a multitude of competing political and aesthetic functions: as a dubious vehicle of bourgeois ideology, for example, or as a support or mask for traditional hierarchies, or, alternately, as a positive Enlightenment ideal capable of effecting a new kind of relationship between equality and freedom. At the crossroads of progressive and conservative ideologies, pity provides literary history with an index of alternative visions of social order. My project begins by tracing a history of pity from Aristotle to Hobbes, including a discussion of the conditions that led to its unprecedented moral status in the eighteenth century. I then turn to argue, through a close analysis of works by Samuel Richardson, Henry Mackenzie, and William Wordsworth, that each author creates an aesthetic specific to his own aims, thereby reconstructing the category of pity for diverse political and literary ends.
PhysicalDescription
Form (authority = gmd)
electronic resource
Extent
vi, 216 p.
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application/pdf
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Note (type = degree)
Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references (p.205-215)
Note (type = statement of responsibility)
by Chadley James Loewen-Schmidt
Name (ID = NAME-1); (type = personal)
NamePart (type = family)
Loewen-Schmidt
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Chadley James
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1971
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author
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Chadley James Loewen-Schmidt
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McKeon
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Michael
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chair
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Advisory Committee
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Michael McKeon
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Diamond
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Marie
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internal member
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Advisory Committee
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Marie Josephine Diamond
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Galperin
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William
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Advisory Committee
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William H Galperin
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Festa
NamePart (type = given)
Lynn
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outside member
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Advisory Committee
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Lynn Festa
Name (ID = NAME-1); (type = corporate)
NamePart
Rutgers University
Role
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degree grantor
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Graduate School - New Brunswick
Role
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school
OriginInfo
DateCreated (point = ); (qualifier = exact)
2009
DateOther (qualifier = exact); (type = degree)
2009-05
Place
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xx
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TitleInfo
Title
Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Identifier (type = RULIB)
ETD
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TitleInfo
Title
Graduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Identifier (type = local)
rucore19991600001
Location
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NjNbRU
Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T3862GNQ
Genre (authority = ExL-Esploro)
ETD doctoral
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The author owns the copyright to this work.
Copyright
Status
Copyright protected
Availability
Status
Open
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Type
Permission or license
Detail
Non-exclusive ETD license
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License
Name
Author Agreement License
Detail
I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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application/x-tar
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