Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Terryl L. Givens

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara J. Griffin

Third Advisor

Dr. Anthony P. Russell


With the publication of her Poems in 1773, favorable reviews welcomed Anna Letitia Barbauld into the literary world. However, Barbauld has traditionally been left out of English literature anthologies, condemned to the murky depths of obscurity. Why has this talented British poet of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries been undeservedly marginalized? Perhaps she has never achieved the status of a major literary figure because her impulse towards community places her outside the mainstream Romantic tradition dominated by the "egotistical sublime." In the poetry of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Keats, an ideal of empathy remains in tension with a predilection towards solitude. Believing that the Romantic quest for connection in solitude leads to self-absorption, Barbauld critiques the egotistical sublime. Barbauld offers an alternative, which involves two related aspects of an impulse towards community. Her poetic vision depicts practical involvement with the community as a vital source of creative inspiration, and it celebrates a demystified quotidian.