Global Humanities Junior Research and Teaching Stay at Harvard
September – December 2016
Nature as First and Last Judgment in Milton and Wordsworth
Nature has frequently been metaphorized as a court of law in which an all-encompassing judgment is pronounced and executed. When natural processes thus become equated with legal proceedings, the result is an apparent absurdity, however: since nature encompasses absolutely everything, the actual object of its jurisdictions – an outside world in which natural law could actually be transgressed – seems to disappear within it. On the basis of two particularly pertinent epic examples – Milton’s Paradise Lost and Wordsworth’s Prelude – Quiring’s research aims to show how the legal metaphor functions despite and even because of its contradictions, and how it structures literary production.
Björn Quiring is an assistant professor at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature (FUB) and a postdoctoral research fellow at the DFG Research Group “The Role of Nature in Conceptualising Political Order: Ancient ‒ Medieval ‒ Early Modern” at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich. His research focuses on the interactions of (natural) law and literature. He has written the monograph Shakespeare’s Curse: The Aporias of Ritual Exclusion in Early Modern Royal Drama (Fink 2009/Routledge2014) and edited anthologies on the theatrum mundi metaphor (August 2013/de Gruyter 2014) and on the philosophy of horror literature (Merve 2014).