Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2003


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Albert C. Labriola

Committee Member

Bernard Beranek

Committee Member

Madeline Archer




This dissertation develops and applies interart studies, an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of literature. The four chapters are unified by an interart analytic methodology intended either to bring a new insight to an unresolved topic in literary interpretation or to offer a new interpretation of a major poem in English literature. The approach is best characterized as "synchronic," a term that Murray Roston uses to designate the interrelation of the visual and literary arts of the same era. The synchronic approach demands that parallels drawn between the visual arts and a literary work be stylistically and thematically clear and cogent, and that the analysis of each art form be well-grounded in the scholarship of both disciplines, art history and literary criticism. The visual arts become a larger "text" from which important insights can be gained to resolve outstanding uncertainties in literary interpretation.

Chapter One draws parallels between the visual arts of the International Gothic period and the highly ornate poetry of the Pearl Poet. There is evidence that the highly sophisticated poetry of the "Alliterative Revival" is likely to be the late flowering of an ongoing "Alliterative Survival." Next, William Langland's Piers Plowman is a poem that has defied efforts at generic classification. But the provocative work of the Rohan Master suggests a larger cultural context in which to situate and characterize Langland's work. Chapters Three and Four examine Milton's visual imagination in Paradise Lost. Baroque art as it developed and spread from seventeenth-century Rome provides important insights into Milton's imagery for his Garden of Eden and into the contrast between light and darkness that are interwoven. Striking stylistic and thematic parallels between Milton's garden and the Baroque classical landscape, as formulated by the Carracci, uncover apt visual analogues. And the tenebrist works of Caravaggio and his followers offer pertinent evidence of Milton's shared Baroque fascination with exploring the expressive range of light and darkness.