"To weave fantastic garlands": graphing complex networks of meaning in Charlotte Smith's Elegiac Sonnets
LE3 .A278 2016
Bachelor of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
This thesis uses basic modelling principles from graph theory to critically revisit and revive the complexity of Charlotte Smith’s Elegiac Sonnets. The graph of Smith’s collection acts as a visual and critical tool, revealing key patterns and motifs in the text and demonstrating the limitations of particular critical perspectives and biases. Although the graph shows many potential avenues of investigation, this thesis will focus on the way the graph prompts a critical re-evaluation of the representations of gender in Elegiac Sonnets. Biographical criticism of Smith’s sonnets has prompted speculation on how Smith merges her social position as a woman and as a mother with the experience of her poetic speaker. The collection and the graph’s model of the collection fracture this assumed correspondence into a complex network of voices that includes the sonnets’ many speakers and Smith’s frequent allusions. Ultimately, the graph does not uncover Smith the woman in Elegiac Sonnets but Smith the poet, who pushes the literary boundaries created by her contemporaries and the critical boundaries assigned because of her gender.
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