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Keats's killing breath: paradigms of a pathography

Walford Davies, Damian ORCID: 2017. Keats's killing breath: paradigms of a pathography. Roe, Nicholas, ed. John Keats and the Medical Imagination, Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 207-242. (10.1007/978-3-319-63811-9_11)

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The nature of Keats’s understanding of the vectors of the disease that killed him, together with the range of conceptual paradigms that such knowledge (and its lack) prompted, has not been fully explored. Developing a historicised ‘pathographical’ literary criticism that identifies in Keats’s poetry and letters complex nodes of self-aware speculation—textual ‘tubercles’—concerning divergent contemporary theories of pulmonary tuberculosis, this chapter proposes that Keats’s work constitutes a clinically insightful and imaginatively exploratory contribution to medical debates concerning the aetiology of the family disease. Further, it shows how contemporary paradigms of tuberculosis presented Keats with highly serviceable, if always distressing, models that focused a range of preoccupations and anxieties such as inheritance and birthrights, individual poethood, imaginative engagement and fantasies of power. These paradigms helped him get a purchase on his biological and literary place in the world.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 9783319638102
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 10:03

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