Abstract

Abstract:

This article examines Charlotte Smith's engagement with the sublime aesthetic in the Elegiac Sonnets. Advancing Sianne Ngai's discussion of noncathartic, negative affects in Ugly Feelings, I argue that Smith develops a noncathartic or ugly version of the sublime feeling. In her sonnets Smith brings the sublime into contact with melancholy, describing scenes that first appear to evoke the sublime feeling but culminate in fatigue, anxiety, and sorrow. In doing so, Smith draws attention to the sense of limited agency her poetic persona experiences due to the very material conditions that drive her to write. This deflated version of the sublime suggests Smith's criticism of the gendered construction of emotional and aesthetic response in eighteenth-century literary culture.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 605-624
Launched on MUSE
2019-08-22
Open Access
No
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