Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Goss, Erin M

Committee Member

Barnett , Scot

Committee Member

Paul , Catherine

Abstract

A phenomenological examination of the respiratory process reveals that possessing the ability to breathe carries with it more significance than an action that solely supports life: capable of leaving the immediate confines of the body, the breath is an enigmatic extension of the self. This particular traversing capability of the active body challenges notions of what it means to be fully embodied by indicating the possibility of subjective expansion outside that which is tangible and fleshly. Due to the intertwining and exchanging characteristics implicit within respirational activity, the sensational boundaries of subject and object become conflated with one another; the sensations experienced and transferred between the two must then be considered as a critical component in the development and evaluation of an embodied being. Phenomenal embodiment extends beyond an individual's habitation solely within and for itself; it manifests within the recognition of sensation through an exchangeable respiration between bodies. Drawing from the theoretical considerations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, this thesis will focus primarily on the treatment of respiration and sensation within Christina Rossetti's mythic poem 'Echo,' establishing the ways in which the intercorporeal crossing of subject and object upon the intersection of their breath is the communicative catalyst through which the phenomenal presence of one's sense of self is engendered and sustained.

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