Date of Award

12-15-2014

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Anthony Jarrells

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on Mary Robinson’s Lyrical Tales, not as the culminating point to which her writing inevitably led, as is frequently imagined in accounts of her life and work, but, instead, as the product of an intricate process of revision that highlights her investment in genre. Versions of many of the poems that Robinson included in Lyrical Tales originally were published in newspapers and periodicals. Rather than seeing the changes as a move toward a best or most mature or inspired version, I argue that Robinson revised to meet the requirements of her new genre, the lyrical tale. I make four distinct claims: that Robinson’s revisions from newspaper verse to lyrical tale show her revising for genre, rather than privileging one over another; that a revision-based approach makes visible a thematic coherence that licenses me to use the term “genre” for her newspaper verse and lyrical tale; that attending to Robinson’s revisions upsets accepted critical views of revision as solely a process of improvement or correction; and that upending traditional developmental narratives of Robinson’s work and revision in general challenges critical notions of the nature of Romanticism formed by looking at a too narrow context. Robinson’s unique process—her careful revision with an eye to genre—challenges many central ideologies birthed by the Romantics and inherited by Romanticists, particularly hierarchical approaches to the poetic process and the poetic product.

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