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  • 2019inglephd

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The mediated self: nervous sympathy in the familial collaborations of the Wordsworth-Lamb-Coleridge Circle, 1799-1852

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2019
Number of pages293
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis examines the interrelated roles of Mediation, Embodiment and Sympathy in the development of shared and relational identities by sibling and family writers in the Wordsworth-Lamb-Coleridge Circle. Responding to recent developments within Romantic Media Studies and The Spatial Turn within the Humanities, this thesis demonstrates that the concepts of mediation and sympathy were inherently linked to emerging understandings of embodiment in the overlapping fields of psychology, philosophy and neuroscience in the late Eighteenth Century. Across three case studies, this thesis applies this spatial, nervous and mediatory account of sympathy to these families in order to demonstrate that Dorothy and William Wordsworth, Charles and Mary Lamb, and Sara and Derwent Coleridge engaged in acts of mediation (through places, bodies and texts) to construct textual, writerly and authorial identities.
This thesis claims that mediation is a vital, if hitherto overlooked, part of the creative process for siblings writing together. It identifies new constructions and practices of shared identity—particularly for the Lambs—and articulates a tri-partite model of creative relationship. It uses this model to reassess current critical presentations of Romantic familial collaboration. The female family members of the canonical Romantic authors within this circle are often depicted as being overshadowed by their published brothers and fathers, which is seemingly reflected in their choice of more marginal literary activities and forms, such as life-writing, children’s literature and posthumous editing. Instead, this thesis uses a tri-partite model of relationship to analyse how mediation (within articulations of shared identity and within the models of meaning-making presented in their texts) enables these male-female siblings to bring each other’s literary identities into being. It concludes that acts of mediation generate creative agency in particular for the female members of this familial and friendly network.