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"Something Fouler than the Earth"

Title: "Something Fouler than the Earth": Death and the Dying Body in British Romantic Literature.
Name(s): Unruh, Sarah Elizabeth, author
Walker, Eric, professor directing dissertation
McNaughton, David, university representative
O‘Rourke, James, committee member
Outka, Paul, committee member
Department of English, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2011
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This dissertation examines the intersection between the body as a physical object and nature; the place where this intersection is most unstable is the dying or dead body. Building on Timothy Morton's work in Ecology without Nature, I concentrate on the historical practices surrounding the dead body as it attempts to find a place within nature. Morton's work does not consider important sites of conflict which I take up in my dissertation: the movement of the corpse from intramural churchyards to extramural cemeteries, the body as natural artifact, and memorialization. Ruth Richardson's Death, Dissection and the Destitute does consider these historical practices and facts in detail, but she does not apply an ecocritical lens, a tool which I use to explore this subject. Medical scholars like Roy Porter, Christopher Lawrence, and James Robert Allard all bring historical context to bear on the body and the place of the doctor in relation to the body; I enter into this conversation by insisting on the inclusion of nature in this topic. I argue that relegating the dead body to a part of nature allows the living to treat it as if it were a natural object, such as a tree or a mountain. That is, making the dead body a natural element allows the living to use the body and dispose of it when it ceases to be useful. As Adam Smith observed, the living cannot pay the debt the dead demand and so the living wish to be rid of the dead and the debt they necessitate. Making the dead just another natural item, as so concretely happens in the Romantic period, is a way to be relieved of this debt. I pursue this topic in readings of texts by Austen, Hazlitt, De Quincey, and Wordsworth.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-1456 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the English Department in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester, 2011.
Date of Defense: April 18, 2011.
Keywords: Romanticism, Medicine, Ecocriticism, Necromanticism, Hazlitt, Jane Austen, DeQuincey, Wordsworth, Hypochondria
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Eric Walker, Professor Directing Dissertation; David McNaughton, University Representative; James O‘Rourke, Committee Member; Paul Outka, Committee Member.
Subject(s): English literature
English language
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Unruh, S. E. (2011). "Something Fouler than the Earth": Death and the Dying Body in British Romantic Literature. Retrieved from