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Name: Thomas Clifton

PhD: English

Thesis Title: The Function of Meditational Poetry in its Prose Context: 1660 - 1678


Thesis Description:

My thesis assesses how and why writers incorporated poetry into their prose meditations in the late seventeenth century. It asks how writers valued poetry, and how poetry changes our understanding of the prose in which it is situated. Furthermore, it explores the audiences for these poems in what are, nominally, private compositions.

The period studied saw the final flourishing of the meditation tradition in English and the beginnings of biographic and diary writing. Additionally there were increasing pressures on the individual consciences of English Protestants due to the imposition of the Clarendon Code which sought to restrict toleration and expression of belief. With these in mind, the project considers the ways in which the writers, and their poetry, negotiate a literary landscape in which privacy and publication gained new, conflicting, and, at times, dangerous implications.

The writers included in the project are: Thomas Traherne, Katherine Austen, Elizabeth Delaval, Susanna Hopton, and John Flavel.


Supervisors and Institution(s): Hugh Addlington (Uob), Peter Auger (UoB), Andrew Hodgson (UoB)


Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

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Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


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Other Research Interests:

  • I am interested generally in 17th century literary culture with a particular focus on devotional poetry.
  • I am also keen to explore ways in which self-writing and reflective writing can enrich and inform personal growth and development in today's context.




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