Thesis Title: The Meaning of Nothing: Extinction as a Critique of Anthropocentrism in 'Last Man' Art and Literature
Supervisor: Professor Fiona Stafford
Research Interests: Romantic literature; Gothic literature; silences, gaps and absences; the relationship between literature and art; animal poetry; eco-criticism
Doctoral Research: My thesis pays particular attention to the much-overlooked silences, gaps and absences in Romantic art forms. Rather than viewing absences as incidental, I argue that they are intentional. Rather than assuming they mean nothing, I argue that they have meaning. Literature and artwork of the Romantic period highlights the importance of individualism and solitude, of feeling and imagination; none more so than those works that explored the concept of human extinction. It is within these so-called 'last man' texts that silence is at its loudest and absence at its most present. Taking this genre as my focus, I assess whether the spaces intentionally left by these writers and artists represent a critique of mankind and its attempts to dominate nature.