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The Monstrous and the Sportive Grotesque in the early Eighteenth Century

McCormick, Ian David (1993) The Monstrous and the Sportive Grotesque in the early Eighteenth Century. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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Chapter One explores the classification of the grotesque and its disruptive role in natural and philosophical taxonomic systems. I argue that the grotesque served as a useful repository for the marvellous, the hybrid and the preternatural. Further, as a product of mind., the grotesque had nominalist status which was used to undermine essentialist classification, as well as to disrupt the referential relation between words and things. Moreover, grotesque hybrids, and fantastic beings were characteristic of the plenitude of nature and of the imagination. Chapter Two therefore moves on from spatial considerations of where the grotesque should be placed, to explore how it is generated and where it comes from. The becomingness of the grotesque is explored in relation to notions of chaos and metamorphosis; in a less tangible sense, I argue that the grotesque process can be understood in relation to metempsychosis and incomplete structuring. In this regard I demonstrate the sportive and playful operation of the grotesque within natures as examples of the lusus naturae. Chapter Three builds on the preoccupations of the first chapter, exploring how the grotesque manipulated different kinds of inner space; I show that an emphasis on the pictorial is insufficient for a proper understanding of the category; rather, the grotesque plays or sports with the underlying concept of representation. Chapter Four moves out from the mental and private spheres of representation to discuss how notions of category and process were brought together in a variety of constructions of the grotesque body. I argue that the body was subject to a novelization, a grotesque welding of forces. The fifth chapter explores the public manifestations of the grotesque in pantomime, fairs and masquerade; I argue that these served as sites of exchange and negotiation and that the grotesque therefore reflects the evolving commercial system. Chapter Six considers the judgment of the grotesque in relation to a range of legalities. The grotesque disrupted notions of legality just as it played within systems. These arguments are tested in the light of Scriblerian satire, with special attention devoted to Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope throughout.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.548708
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2012 08:41
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:17
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2429

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