‘These seemingly rival spheres constitute but one cosmos’: Constance Naden as scientist, philosopher, and poet

Stainthorp, Clare Georgina (2017). ‘These seemingly rival spheres constitute but one cosmos’: Constance Naden as scientist, philosopher, and poet. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Through her poetry and essays Constance Naden (1858-1889) sought to create an interdisciplinary philosophy predicated upon finding unity in diversity. By providing close-readings of Naden’s poetry, essays, and unpublished notebooks, and thus considering the full breadth of her intellectual pursuits, this thesis demonstrates the extent of her secular world-scheme which attempted to synthesise science, philosophy, and poetry. I begin with an intellectual biography that situates Naden’s scientific education, philosophical ideas, and poetic output in their nineteenth-century contexts. This creates a framework for understanding the trajectory of Naden’s endeavours as scientist, philosopher, and poet. The subsequent chapters demonstrate how these three strands of her life were fundamentally intertwined. Chapter Two focuses upon Naden’s engagement with scientific ideas and the scientific imagination, specifically examining the importance of light as it manifests in the study of botany, astronomy, physics, and physiology. Chapter Three turns to Naden as philosopher, teasing out the details of her childhood faith (newly demonstrated by the notebooks) and analysing the development of her relationship with the freethought movement and wider philosophical discourses. Chapter Four analyses Naden’s equivocal relationship with poetic tradition, focusing on her shifting engagement with Romanticism, and her use of the lyric ‘I’ and the comic mode.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/7290


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