Romantic Frames of Mind: Vision and Sympathy in British Novels of the Nineteenth Century Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 20, 2019
  • Massie, Catherine
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Victorians in Britain believed, following the Romantics, that vision facilitated sympathy, or knowledge of others' inner lives. Yet humanities scholars have often associated Victorian art or literature that presents vision as a mode of knowledge or avenue for curiosity with spectacle or discipline: the disruption of sympathy. This dissertation challenges this narrative to argue that many Victorian artists and writers experimented with the visual to aid sympathy (empathy, in modern parlance). It focuses on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Brontë's Villette, George Eliot's Middlemarch, and Rudyard Kipling's Kim, paired with visual art (paintings or photographs) or visual experiences (seeing through microscopes, visiting a museum, looking through an album), to suggest that these novels variously exemplify fiction's power to help audiences see from other points of view. The novels function as cognitive artifacts that practice audiences in perspective change. This analysis clarifies the depth of the Romantic aesthetic revolution and suggests the return of its ideas in modern cognitive science.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Viscomi, Joseph
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2014

This work has no parents.