Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, iii, 51 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Helen R Elam

Committee Members

Kir Kuiken


edible, food, keats, poetry, Food in literature

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


This thesis is an exploration of the language of food and drink in the letters and poetry of John Keats. In sifting through his letters, famous for his unselfconscious thoughts on the nature of poetry and poetic composition, it is possible to construct the details of his culinary life not only as it pertains to daily eating habits but also in how he uses the language of food to articulate the sensations achieved in the course of writing and reading poetry. Keats frequently adapted this language to describe these activities because for him, the way food is consumed and synthesized to nourish the body is parallel to the consumption of poetry and its subsequent nourishing effect on a soul. Throughout the letters this is seen most often in metaphors where poetry is transformed into a literary morsel and is offered via the page to a reader. Such readable crumbs usually preface, in letters or poems, an intellectual shift or journey into another space or imagined consciousness. The presence of edible objects designates that shift as emotionally and symbolically important.