english literature phd

english literature phd

Exploring the Evolution and Impact of English Literature through a PhD Dissertation

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1. Introduction: Setting the Stage for the Study

Studying a novel purely as novel is a form of literary archaeology. We can’t do laboratory work on the novels which existed before the novel; and, as Alexander Pope would say, “The dust of exploded works may make a fine prospect in a garret”. If we look at our task in this way, we open our-salves to several insights and problems simultaneous. It is likely that we can learn a great deal about the practice of reading in the first centuries after the invention of print; and this in turn will help us understanding founding a large part of our culture, because his part is an oral culture, context for print is provided mainly by personal accounts of private readings. And the discussion of post backgrounds to literary works in the period after c. 1450 presupposed literary conventions with which one might press such backgrounds into play. Provided one doesn’t press to hard.

My purpose in this study is to look at a set of 19th-century English novels, novels which no oriented critic looks down on, and to examine them qua novels. Such criticism will have a task of charting the history; and, since every great English novel exists in part in reaction against other English novels, our history will wind back into the deepest reaches of our past. But we won’t be straining forward into the future, plotting a rising climax through the vast future of English novel production. The novel didn’t rise, it erupted; and, after the novel exploded into history, any future fruit which exploded from these early scat tiring would probably be split open, pulpy messes; they’d be seeds.

2. Historical Context: Tracing the Development of English Literature

We may be certain that the long history of preservation of these texts by religious officials was the only thing that saved them from the bonfires and other random acts of destruction performed by successive generations. So our next phase will be to determine the rates of production of the various cultures in order to see what empirical data there might be to appraise the operation of the luxury, ascetic, vulgar, and potlatch motivation analyses.

As source material for the study of our literary and cultural past, our only primary sources for most things that we know about that culture would be lost to us but for the accident of the preservation of a few late manuscripts. It is an astonishing fact that we have the originals or copies of many authors who were not much valued at their times. The means for this preservation was the religious culture of those communities that undertook that preservation. They saw parchment manuscripts as useful to serve the ends of the abbeys and monasteries in binding their ecclesiastical texts. They loved and cherished those difficult texts from the classical past because they were difficult, not because the words that the texts contained were irrelevant to the text’s capacity to serve to greater understanding of the world and the truths of faith. Those who did see reason to mention the texts were monk Tekla.

3. Key Themes and Movements in English Literature

The eighteenth century came to be known as the Augustan Age in English literature as it was the era of various writers like Addison, Defoe, Swift, Fielding, Richardson, Pope, and Dryden. It was the period when the novel emerged as the major genre in English literature and it was an era of enlightenment, of people, and an age of the critical spirit. The Romantic era derived its name from romantic through a few writers of the Augustan period, as it derived imitative similes from later writers of metaphysical poetry. This age was called sentimentalism and it was highly expressed in poetry, and also in the prose of Goldsmith, Sterne, and Richardson. The importance of the poetic was so distinguished that it was often spoken of as “poetry” for what it denotes was sentimentalism of poetry tendencies. The compassionate feeling brought about by sentimentalism was notoriously base in poetry and it wasn’t directed towards challenging the norms, the superstitions, and the cruel customs of reality. Rival of mirth, the most difficult emotional reaction evoked by poetry, was the laughter of comedy. It was often noticed that after the witty expressions of certain stimuli, true poetry sprang from the mirth evoked by those expressions.

3.2 The Shocking Era

Shakespearean Literature: The sixteenth century marked the golden age of English literature due to the works of William Shakespeare. The themes which were prevalent in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century revolved around racial and gender prejudice, love, misery, and despair. This period gave birth to some poetic traditions like sonnet, eulogy, hymn, elegy, and pastoral. The prose was also matured during this period of time. Women writers like Mary Wrokley and Emilia Lanier wrote their stories during this golden age. Also, writers like Sir Thomas More (Utopia) and Sir Philip Sidney (Arcadia) contributed immensely during this period of time. The strengthening of religious and spiritual problems gave foundation to the metaphysical poets. Thus, the Shakespearean era can be considered as the springtime of English literature as Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, 100 sonnets, and 11 poems. The plays can be divided into four types: tragedies, comedies, histories, and romances. The complex characters of the plays are the paradigms of the entirety of pure and complex aspects of human life. The dark side of life is sculpted meticulously in the tragedies, and the happiness of life is portrayed with the concept of love in the comedies, and the authentic stories are presented in the chronicle plays. The political and social issues are blended with life stories in romances.

3.1 The Golden Age of English Literature and Popular Themes

4. Critical Analysis of Selected Literary Works

The Old English Period is represented by four poetic works: the epic Beowulf and the Christian poems Widsith, Dream of the Rood, and Judith. Beowulf may be the earliest-surviving long poem in Old English and is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Old English literature. Widsith and The Seafarer are each of 142 verses, and Waldere is of 143 verses. Most of the important Old English poetic material is anonymous, so Beowulf was a certain history where Scandinavia’s old society mainly has culture, society, and art’s influence on England. Such old poetries are so important because of such a big amount of data which usually are not available to us from other sources. From the 7th to the 9th centuries, poets are supposed to have belonged with each other and orally transferred the poetry of these materials in a lot of social occasions throughout the poems’ course.

The four chapters in the thesis present the results of close critical reading and analysis of a select set of English literary works representing different sub-periods within the early phase of the evolution of English literature. As with language, English literature too has evolved over a millennium, starting from its origins in the Isle of Great Britain of the 10th century, with Anglo-Saxon literature, also called Old English literature. It should be taken into consideration that between the 8th and 10th centuries, England was attacked by large pagan forces. However, the poem, with its complex design, was the subject of wide literary attention along with Beowulf. The poem of Beowulf had also survived from the era of the Germanic invasion, which probably was fought in the 6th century.

5. Conclusion: Insights and Implications for the Field

It is no accident that politicians, both democratic and autocratic, take such a passionate interest in literature and literary education; why else would censorship of reading material occupy the high political priority that it enjoys? Literature is recognized as a means towards happy and healthy individual and group by those who enjoy and wield considerable power; this same beneficent potential has motivated founders of religious traditions, reformers, and critics dating back to Plato to critique and censor aspects of the art form that express ‘dangerous’ ideas. But are these potential benefits credible and real? Given the high value that society places on literacy and literature, we ought to be able to offer conclusive evidence, if it exists, that the study of literature yields some essential benefits for readers. Our discussion has revealed that the potential positive payoff offered by literature is highly controversial, despite its perceived truth.

Despite the analytic attention and methodological sophistication of many historical studies of Anglophone literature, many gaps remain in our understanding of the consequences of literature’s content and form for the well-being of readers. The current project fills a specific hole in the record when it answers the question of whether, and under what circumstances, reading novels influences the health of readers. At the same time, the associated assumptions that we make about the evolution and impact of English literature that inform this question stand to enlighten the development of wider fields of study. We have revealed and formalized the basis for the widespread intuition that literature and literary education are good things; if nothing else, our discussion has engaged and articulated the beliefs of an important faction within society. The insights and specific arguments that we gather shape contemporary debates and discussions about literature’s worth in a serious way.

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