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1. Finlayson, Neil. Romanticism and the Temporality of Wander.

Degree: PhD, English, 2019, York University

This dissertation contextualizes and accounts for the proliferation of representations of wander that permeate British Romanticism. The prominence of wander in this writing is an articulation of the embodiment of a new temporal mode, namely the quantified temporality of modernity. The study begins by identifying two main versions of Romantic wander: one that is free and naturalized, and one that is monotonous and dispossessing. The duality of wander maps onto two distinct aspects of clock time; a temporality that becomes increasingly entrenched, socially, culturally, and economically, over the course of the eighteenth-century. Through reading four explicit representations of Romantic wander, the dissertation argues that clock times open permissiveness is performed in Romanticism as a rhetoric of free wander, while clock times structured monotony is demonstrated by the experience of displaced and alienated wander. William Wordsworths The Excursion (1814) rhetorically positions free wander as an antidote to the industrialization and solipsism of modernity that is encroaching upon the poems pastoral space; however, the rhetoric of wander in the text becomes ideological, in its naturalization of an economical temporal expenditure. Frances Burneys The Wanderer (1814) demonstrates how the rhetoric of free wander is a privileged fiction, and shows how wander, when experienced by a nameless, connectionless young woman, is not only alienating, but dangerous. Samuel Taylor Coleridges The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798, 1817) draws a link between the dispossessed wander of the Mariner and the newly mechanized, rationalized, and instrumental world he uncovers inadvertently on his voyagethe wandering Mariner becomes the first itinerant, individuated, and time-bound subject of modernity. Finally, Charles Robert Maturins Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) functions as a cautionary tale of the alienation that accompanies modern subjectivity and its quantified temporality. Ultimately, wander functions as a kind of warning, as Romanticism paces the uncertain ground of modernity. The duality of wander makes intelligible the duality of the temporality of modernitya time that is alternately the rhetorical buttressing of class and gender privilege, as well as a means of discipline and a form of dispossession. Advisors/Committee Members: Balfour, Ian G. (advisor).

Subjects/Keywords: British and Irish literature; British literature; Romanticism; wander; wanderer; temporality; clock time; modernity; romance; William Wordsworth; Frances Burney; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Charles Robert Maturin

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APA (6th Edition):

Finlayson, N. (2019). Romanticism and the Temporality of Wander. (Doctoral Dissertation). York University. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Finlayson, Neil. “Romanticism and the Temporality of Wander.” 2019. Doctoral Dissertation, York University. Accessed December 08, 2019.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Finlayson, Neil. “Romanticism and the Temporality of Wander.” 2019. Web. 08 Dec 2019.


Finlayson N. Romanticism and the Temporality of Wander. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. York University; 2019. [cited 2019 Dec 08]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Finlayson N. Romanticism and the Temporality of Wander. [Doctoral Dissertation]. York University; 2019. Available from: