Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Comparative Literature

Supervisor(s)

Professor Angela Borchert

Abstract

This thesis surveys the relationship between late Roman Stoicism and nineteenth century dandyism. This correlation is based on comments within the Barbeyan and Baudelairean dandyist theories as expanded in “Du dandysme et de Georges Brummell” (1845) and “Le Peintre de la vie moderne” (1863) respectively. In both of these texts, several references are made to dandies as Stoics or possessing stoic qualities, primarily an attitude of indifference. Though Stoic influence is a recurring theme throughout dandy practice and theory, both nominally and performatively, few literary critics have addressed the dandy’s particularly modern use of ancient Stoic doctrine. This thesis argues that the dandy’s adoption of ancient Stoic influence is ironic, using both appropriation and parody to interpret ancient Stoic behavioural practice. By comparing and contrasting approaches to emotional and behavioural strategies – impressions, judgment and rationality, and preferred indifferents – I demonstrate the shift from ancient Stoic apatheia to the modern apathy.


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