Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Romantic Ends reinterprets of the origins and legacies of romantic death, the cultural spectacle exemplified by the dramatic deaths of young poets like John Keats. Against the widespread belief that romanticism ushered in a uniquely theatrical vision of death, Romantic Ends traces a long history of death as rhetorical performance, from the early modern ars moriendi ("art of dying") to the neoclassical obsession with the good death. The poetic deaths of the romantic period established a new repertoire of tropes and figures out of these longstanding and disparate deathbed traditions, set within the emerging discursive arena of "poetry." Yet while romantic death is a recognizable and potent archetype, an underexplored strain of romantic-period writing evinces a deep suspicion toward the conventions and meaning-making logics of death. The precise function for which romanticism has been credited and blamed€”the exploitation of death as shorthand for the "poetic"€”is in fact subject to strategies of evasion and disruption in romantic poetry.