The poetry and science of Humphry Davy

Amin, W 2013, The poetry and science of Humphry Davy , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Drawing on the wealth of manuscript material in his personal notebooks, my thesis presents Humphry Davy through the lens of his published and manuscript poetry. Having transcribed and examined Davy’s poems in groups and from a literary critical and historical perspective, I argue that his poems are historically contingent on the mutability of his career, and in them, Davy adopts and redeploys literary, scientific and medical ideas to confirm his imaginative and controlled emotional connection with nature. Chapter One traces the way in which Davy expresses his youthful ambitions in his published poetry through a nexus of literary and medical ideas. Chapter Two compares Davy’s manuscript poetry with his physiological work at Bristol to reveal that he explores the different ways in which the sublime can be both transcendent and physiological. Chapter Three examines Davy’s use of rhetoric in his lectures on chemistry and the lyric in his poems on Anna, wife of Thomas Beddoes. Chapter Four contrasts Davy’s poetry written during his first and second trips on the Continent. The natural landscapes, which in 1813 are imbued with Davy’s confident perspective as a natural philosopher who can find the harmonies in nature, later become a means for reassurance on the workings of the mind and body. Chapter Five examines a notebook used from 1827 as Davy’s final act to gather some of his poems into a group. In many of his new and hesitant poems, Davy considers the possibility of immortality and conveys his Platonist beliefs. By reading Davy’s poetry as a product of the literary and scientific culture of the Romantic period, my thesis aims to broaden awareness of Davy’s knowledge of complex ideas in literature, science and medicine, and the common cultural stimuli of literary and scientific figures in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Rushton, SP (Supervisor) and Harker, B (Supervisor)
Themes: Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for English Literature and Language
Schools > School of Arts & Media
Funders: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Depositing User: W Amin
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 18:34
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2021 13:44

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