Synaesthesis in the criticism of I A Richards

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

John Paul Russo - Committee Chair


I. A. Richards' ideal for poetry which is most useful to mankind, because it systematizes his impulses and enables him to see relationships between elements of his experience, is poetry engaging both perception and internal sensation in human personality. Such poetry involves the physical, intellectual, and psychological elements, in what Richards calls the psychological notion of synaesthesis, which is by metonymy the spiritual notion of interinanimation and the Platonic notion of sophrosyne, all three states in which the reader is enabled to interpret his emotions and attitudes, ultimately to infer knowledge of himself and of his relationship to that which is outside of himself. All three terms imply harmony, balance, the interplay of conflicting impulses, and their proper subordination one to another; none exist in a pure state, but only in dialectic.This study is concerned with the influences of early continental and American psychologists in the development of modern criticism, in which Richards combined the psychologists' notion of synaesthesis with John Donne's idea of interinanimation, Coleridgean Platonism, and ultimately Plato's sophrosyne, to develop one of the most influential theories in twentieth century criticism: contextual analysis. Richards employed these ideas interchangeably throughout his career as critic and educator, to suggest the dynamic interaction of words on a page.


Literature, English

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