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Remapping Milton: Space, place and influence 1700-1800

Tyrrell, Thomas 2017. Remapping Milton: Space, place and influence 1700-1800. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

In my examination of the influence of John Milton’s poetry on eighteenth century literature, I argue that eighteenth-century writers engage with ideas of space and place as they seek to transform Miltonic verse into a suitable medium for describing the Newtonian astronomy and imperial geography of their day. My first chapter examines John Philips’s Cyder and John Dyer’s The Fleece alongside county maps and commercial atlases, as part of a study of how their verse appropriates Milton’s politics and revises his geography. In my second chapter, I use digital mapping technology to explore the different viewing perspectives James Thomson uses in The Seasons, how they derive from Milton, and how they support his project to describe a harmonious, providential global geography. My third chapter investigates adaptations of Milton’s A Mask Performed at Ludlow Castle (1634). Across the eighteenth century, A Mask generated an opera, a play and a novel, and I examine how the meaning of each adaptation changes due to the altered place and context of performance. In my last two chapters, I argue that the female tradition of astronomical poetry seeks to reconcile Miltonic verse with Newtonian science whilst also critiquing it from a devotional perspective. Finally, I claim that Ann Yearsley and Charlotte Smith used Milton’s influence as a means to usurp the exclusively male territory of the eighteenth-century prospect poem, through poetry written from Clifton Hill in Bristol and Beachy Head on the South Downs. In my coda on William Wordsworth I conclude that to view him as the culmination of eighteenth-century engagement with Milton is to bias our understanding of both authors. Reconsidering Milton’s eighteenth-century influence is a vital part not only of understanding the worldview of the age, but also of distinguishing Milton himself from what the eighteenth century made of him.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 May 2018
Last Modified: 08 May 2018 09:19
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/111233

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