My MA thesis at Bucknell explores how Coleridge’s understanding of the imagination 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 examines: 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.
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 philosophy, Hartley’s associationism, German idealism, etc.), there remains much to consider in relation to Coleridge’s studies of natural history and theology. I hope to further this study in a doctorate program after graduating from Bucknell.