Thomas Beddoes and the Politics of the Imagination

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Abstract

The influence of Coleridge’s definition of the imagination in Biographia Literaria as a phenomenon which functions to “idealize and to unify” is still strong. But even amongst his contemporaries, alternative accounts were being explored. This essay analyses the work of Thomas Beddoes, for whom the imagination did not just apply to poetic endeavour, but was a vital stimulus of scientific enquiry and political activism. Beddoes’s work complicates modern definitions of the literary, demonstrating the extent to which Romantic literary concepts were informed by investigations in other fields. It analyses Beddoes’s exploration of imagination in his scientific writings, polemical pamphlets and medical works. The distinction between these categories is never secure. Beddoes’s writings display peculiar intergeneric qualities, which emphasise the importance of imaginative enquiry across his works, and challenge the regulative effects of disciplinary distinctions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
VolumeEarly Online
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jun 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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