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Title page for ETD etd-07292010-095117

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Baca, Beau Yancy
Author's Email Address beau.y.baca@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07292010-095117
Title Situating Pathos in English Drama of the Long Eighteenth Century
Degree PhD
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jonathan Lamb Committee Chair
Bridget Orr Committee Member
James Epstein Committee Member
Mark Schoenfield Committee Member
  • subjectivity
  • pathos
  • sympathy
  • dramaturgy
  • genre
  • induction
Date of Defense 2010-05-21
Availability unrestricted
This study looks at Pathetic Drama alongside contemporary changes in thinking about the nature of knowledge and the attendant changes in thinking about the relation of self to the material world. Empiricism and aesthetics hold that knowledge and judgment come from sense experience; but both fields make moves to replace subjective experience with objective truth. As science uses induction to make particular sense experience objective knowledge, so generic form represents an attempt to standardize aesthetic judgment. In both cases the particular experiences of individuals are abandoned for the sake of objectivity. Paradoxically this devalues the individual sense experience purported to be the basis of these fields of knowledge. At the same time, the individual subject’s sense of what Habermas calls “saturated interiority” is threatened by the increasing social importance of public opinion. Pathetic Drama sought to engage its audience sympathetically, offering a way of maintaining the particularities of subjective experience by emphasizing the situational nature both of selves and of affective judgment and resisting the objectifying tendency of formal conventions. By creating an aesthetic experience that is simultaneously private and shared, pathetic drama negotiates the tension between the spectator’s simultaneous desires for interiority and membership in the public sphere. This placed Pathetic Drama in line with the doctrine of moral sense philosophers like Shaftesbury, Frances Hutcheson, and Adam Smith who sought to ease the tension between individual and public by rendering the division between them permeable.
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