Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
“ 'Columbus of the moral seas': Byronic Sexuality and Relationship to Place" follows what Byron’s work encourages and adopts the rhetorical figures of metonymy and synecdoche as a frame to consider the profound effect of the poet’s illegal sexuality on his relationship to place. As Byron’s work draws into parallel his personal trials with others’ oppression on the cultural, national or imperial scale, his work seems to beg that readers consider both the specifics of his own developing biography and the poet’s wider world. These parallels have often been interpreted as Byron’s humanization of political oppression abroad; however, Byron also signals, with these parallels, the political nature of his own personal trials, and this is the focus here. Synecdochic relationship, by which a part represents the whole, or the whole represents part, is a problematic relationship in the socio-political realm, given the exclusion or effacement of the individual which it involves; Byron’s poetry leads me to assert that only the individual and the globe can be validly figured in terms of synecdoche, more literally considered. On the other hand, in a metonymic relationship one recognizes difference as well as similarity in the other. This is an ideal form of relationship in the personal, and socio-political dimensions, and within the economic, it manifests as doux commerce. Byron’s work reveals that manifestations of the synecdochic will to consume difference often emanate from one system in his own times, the British church and state. Following Byron’s self-revealing lines in Don Juan—“The new world would be nothing to the old, / If some Columbus of the moral seas / Would show mankind their souls’ antipodes”—this project interprets as one antipode, Byron and John Edleston’s love, later idealized and projected onto Greece’s struggle for autonomy, and at the other antipode: socio-political oppression and economic exploitation.
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Kobayashi, Emily Epstein, ""Columbus of the moral seas": Byronic Sexuality and the Figuration of Place" (2016). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 2340.