Jessica Roberson 1
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  • 1 University of California
Sea-Changed
Felicia Hemans and Burial at Sea in the Nineteenth-Century Imaginary
in Gothic Studies
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This article identifies sea-burial as a topos of the early nineteenth-century imaginary that draws on both Gothic tropes and Romantic reformulations of Gothic aesthetics in order to signal a sea changed poetics of shifting dislocation, decay, and denial in the work of Felicia Hemans. The loss of a corpse at sea makes visible the extent to which any act of posthumous identification relies upon a complex network actively maintained by the living. This article will also develop our understanding of the ways in which Gothic tropes of burial might extend into specifically maritime literary cultures of the early nineteenth century. This strand of a nautical Gothic reflects not only nineteenth-century anxieties about nautical death but the corporeality of both individual and cultural memory. Such representations of sea-burial negotiate a nautical Gothic aesthetic that might propel new understanding of the relationship between poetry and the material dimensions of affective memorialization.

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