Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Regina Hewitt, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marty Gould, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nicole Discenza, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Victor Peppard, Ph.D.


Eucharist, iconography, medievalism, mysticism, relics, religion and literature


The Medievalizing Process: Religious Medievalism in Romantic and Victorian Literature posits religious medievalism as one among many critical paradigms through which we might better understand literary efforts to bring notions of sanctity back into the modern world. As a cultural and artistic practice, medievalism processes the loss of medieval forms of understanding in the modern imagination and resuscitates these lost forms in new and imaginative ways to serve the purposes of the present. My dissertation proposes religious medievalism as a critical method that decodes modern texts’ lamentations over a perceived loss of the sacred. My project locates textual moments in select works of John Keats, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde that reveal concern over the consequences of modern dualism. It examines the ways in which these texts participate in a process of rejoining to enchant a rationalistic epistemology that stymies transcendental unity. I identify the body of Christ, the central organizing principle of medieval devotion, as the cynosure of nineteenth-century religious medievalism. This body offers a non-dualistic alternative that retroactively undermines and heals Cartesian divisions of mind and body and Kantian distinctions between noumenal and knowable realities. Inscribing the dynamic contours of the medieval religious body into a text’s linguistic structure, a method I call the “medievalizing process,” underscores the spiritual dimensions of its reform efforts and throws into relief a distinctly religious, collective agenda that undergirds many nineteenth-century texts.