Open Access Thesis
Master of Arts (MA)
English Language and Literature
Laura George, PhD, Chair
Elisabeth Däumer, PhD
In his “Defence of Poetry,” Shelley claims, “Poets… were called in the earlier epochs of the world legislators or prophets.” As such, even a cursory glance at Shelley’s poetry and political beliefs reveals an interest in what is wrong with the world, how to fix it, and what will happen if no action is taken. However, current studies fail to fully assess what makes up the prophetic imagination. They confine discussions of Romantic prophecy to discussions of prophetic inspiration, futurity, and rhetoric – divorcing the work from its impetus for social change. The prophetic imagination, as utilized by Shelley, is instead connected to an ancient Old Testament tradition of radical challenge to authority that possesses a distinctly social function. This study examines Shelley’s poetry and prose as intentionally prophetic texts that critique the dominant consciousness of his (and future) times and energize a community of resistance to the status quo.
Winckles, Andrew O., "The Prophetic Imagination of P. B. Shelley" (2009). Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. 248.