PhD Project

  • Guldberg, Kasper Rueskov (Project Participant)

    Project Details


    My research concerns Romanticism in its historical context of revolution and war, and my focus is the relationship between the era’s momentous events and literary responses. The psychological aspects of this relationship have so far been insufficiently explained and several aspects have yet to be explored. My aim is therefore to redress the gap in the existing scholarship and to provide nuances and details across the various disciplines involved. To this end I propose to view and analyse Romanticism as an artistic current arising from cultural responses to particular moments of crisis. The radical departure from previous studies is the examination of Romantic mainstays – imagination, genius, intuition, transcendence, etc. – as traumatic responses to psychological injury, sustained in extremely stressful or even life-threatening situations. Prosodic theory (theory concerned with poetic metre, structure, and versification) will to some extent be drawn upon in the attempt to uncover what the prosodic strategies of relevant Romantic poems reveal about the critical experience from which they arise. This approach (i.e. conducting micro-critical, prosodic analyses of linguistic and poetic strategies embodied and imbedded in the poetry) will, crucially, aim particularly at those parts of the experience that are unavailable to conscious remembrance. The multifaceted methodology is opted for out of a belief that it will effectively unearth and identify new relations between creativity, literature, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience. It will, from a structural point of view, add a strong element to the methodological constitution of my thesis.
    Further, by applying recent theory from trauma psychology to the cultural products of Romanticism I seek to break down the barriers between historical crisis, literature, and psychology. My intention is to develop a general theory with wider application in cultural studies, one which will be firmly grounded in case studies from both the old and the new world: exemplified by the poetic works of Walt Whitman, William Wordsworth and S. T. Coleridge.
    In addition the this, I expose and investigate an important but seldom acknowledged interdisciplinary ‘kinship’ – that is, the less than adequately explored parallels between trauma theory and Wordsworth’s philosophy of Romantic poetry composition. This parallel indicates an interdisciplinary nexus where, in terms of methodology, I have deemed it advantageous to let leading-edge psychological research expand and augment the conclusions I shall draw about Romanticism.
    Also, because a Romantic poem is often the palpable, creative result of a poet’s reliving (consciously and unconsciously) past emotion, it lends itself well to being read as a piece of testimony. The available critical material, though both abundant and stimulating in this particular field of literary and cultural criticism, has admittedly (though perhaps understandably) given priority to cataclysmic events of the 20th century, particularly the Holocaust. Earlier traumas suffer from a lack of scholarly attention of the sort here directed.
    For this reason, the thesis is intended to contribute considerably to our understandings of the French Revolution and the American Civil War in terms of the moments of crisis and trauma they engendered. In brief, the interdisciplinary design of this thesis is provided by its psychological and linguistic aspects. Its main subject is Romanticism and Romantic poetry as represented by three canonical poets of continuing importance, whose writings are exemplary of early British and late American Romanticism.
    Effective start/end date01/11/201231/10/2016