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Title page for ETD etd-08032014-085833

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Miller, Adam Jason
Author's Email Address adam.j.miller@vanderbit.edu
URN etd-08032014-085833
Title Enframing and Enlightenment: A Phenomenological History of Eighteenth-Century British Science, Technology, and Literature
Degree PhD
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jonathan Lamb Committee Chair
Bridget Orr Committee Member
Dahlia Porter Committee Member
David Wood Committee Member
  • british literature
  • Heidegger
  • gothic
  • scientific revolution
  • industrial revolution
Date of Defense 2014-05-21
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation applies the phenomenological insights of Martin Heidegger to the history of eighteenth-century Britain in order to produce new readings of that period’s fiction and poetry. I argue that diverse authors of the period responded to the ideological implications of the Scientific and Early Industrial Revolutions; namely, the advocacy of utility as the “moral” end of scientific research and technological innovation. I develop readings of literary and historical texts that reveal this utilitarian logic at work in a range of eighteenth-century practices, including patent law reform, textile manufacturing, slavery, and colonialism. Some of the major authors considered include Francis Bacon, John Locke, Daniel Defoe, Olaudah Equiano, Maria Edgeworth, and Ann Radcliffe. I argue that the Enlightenment’s notion of progress is a misnomer, and that these practices—and the technologies and discourses that helped secure them—were motivated by tandem logics of prophylaxis and repair. I conclude, therefore, that the progressive, positivist narrative with which the Enlightenment typically presents itself is at odds with its actual workings.
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