My MA thesis at Bucknell explores how Coleridge’s development of the imagination, from 1803 onward, is influenced by his scientific studies of natural history and theology. My thesis seeks to provide a new understanding of Coleridge’s imagination through his study of science and theology, particularly through the writings of J.F. Blumenbach, Erasmus Darwin, and Johannes Scotus Eriugena.
Contextualizing my study within Coleridge’s evolving engagement with pantheism, my thesis will examine: 1) how Coleridge’s incorporation of Blumenbach’s theory of generation and Eriugena’s concept of nature informed his ideas about the relationship between nature and the mind; and 2) how, from this incorporation, Coleridge developed a theory of poetic creativity that culminated in his highly influential definition of the imagination in the Biographia Literaria. I hope that, by examining how Coleridge’s imagination is informed by science and the emerging field of natural history, I will provide a new understanding of Coleridge’s imagination through the concepts of eighteenth-century creativity.
Because previous studies of Coleridge’s ideas on the imagination have focused primarily on the philosophical and literary connections (i.g. in context with Locke’s arguments, Hartley’s associationism, German idealism, etc.), there remains a vast amount of information to consider in relation to Coleridge’s studies of natural history. I expect to further this study in a doctorate program after graduating from Bucknell.