New publication: The Poetics of Space, the Mind, and the Supernatural in S. T. Coleridge
My first post of 2022 is an exciting one for me: another publication is out in the world! “The Poetics of Space, the Mind, and the Supernatural in S. T. Coleridge” is my contribution to the excellent Palgrave Handbook of Gothic Origins edited by Clive Bloom (one of a three-volume set of field-defining handbooks full of original essays covering the Gothic from the eighteenth century to now).
My chapter examines the Gothic and supernatural poetry of Romantic-period writer and thinker Samuel Taylor Coleridge, arguing that Coleridge’s engagement with the Gothic in his work not only marks him as much as Gothic writer as Romantic poet, but also that Coleridge’s employment of the Gothic as a lens through which to explore his unique conceptions of the mind and the haunting spaces of nightmares and the supernatural world allows him to significantly advance the genre. My analysis focuses on Coleridge’s poems The Ancient Mariner and Christabel, as well as his writing about the mind and imagination in his Biographia Literaria.
Chapter abstract: While Samuel Taylor Coleridge is remembered as a Romantic poet, much of his best and most influential writing—from his poems The Ancient Mariner and Christabel to his Biographia Literaria—participates heavily in the Gothic tradition. Moreover, these texts represent a significant innovation, helping to initiate the Gothic’s turn towards the inner spaces of the mind and the unconscious that would characterise Gothic from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. This chapter argues that the reasons for both Coleridge’s engagement with and innovative impact upon the Gothic involve his unique conceptions of proto-higher-dimensional space in which liminal states of consciousness like dreams and the imagination overlap with the supernatural world.
Coleridge has long been a fascinating writer for me, and I am particularly interested in his writing across the boundaries of Gothic and Romantic forms (the division between which is arbitrary and false, as Coleridge’s work demonstrates), and literary, scientific, medical, philosophical and spiritual fields of thought. Coleridge’s work is a melting-pot of his own intense, personal experiences of and investigations into the nightmares that haunted him for most of his life, and which he variously attributed to medical, moral and supernatural (demonic) causes.
This chapter forms part of my broader work on Coleridge, and sits particularly in conversation with another recent chapter (forthcoming later this year through Manchester University Press) in which I examine Coleridge’s personal writing about his nightmares in his private journals. This focus on Coleridge’s personal, private writings (which, I argue, are also Gothic in style) complements my analysis of Coleridge’s public-facing writings to provide a fuller, more nuanced picture of Coleridge’s engagement with the Gothic. These chapters are manifestations of a project I am developing further.
Read “The Poetics of Space, the Mind, and the Supernatural in S. T. Coleridge” here: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84562-9_16
Read the full Palgrave Handbook of Gothic Origins here: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-84562-9