Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


A tradition of criticism in Keats studies has constructed a view of the poet as a writer who is entirely disengaged from history and of his poems as completely finished products, self-contained and ahistorical. This view of the poet and his poems dominates our present understanding of Keats. This dissertation, "The dialogical Keats: Studies in a Bakhtinian approach to Keats' narrative poems," is an attempt to develop a reading of Keats' poetry which uncovers those qualities in the poems that have been denied by the tradition of Keats criticism. Bakhtin's view of language as shared social territory provides a tool to distance Keats from the individualisms of both text and author that inform much of the criticism on the poet. Approaching Keats under the influence of Bakhtin allows us to see the poems as the product of various different cultural discourses, and the author, Keats, as subject to these competing discourses.;Two ideas which are central to Bakhtin's thought are employed in order to accomplish this revision of Keats: dialogism and the chronotope. The dissertation is divided into two sections, each of which explores Keats' poems, in a number of short chapters, in the light of one of these ideas. The first section contextualizes Keats' Isabella within the literary-historical dialogue of his day. The second section examines Keats' relationship to history from a different angle, by exploring his dialogistic use of various chronotopes, or cultural matrices of time and space, within the poems and the poetic oeuvre. The results of each section are very similar, as the conclusion to the dissertation suggests: both sections reveal the radically unsettled and inherently historical nature of Keats' poems.



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