skip to content

Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


Marc Gotthardt


Faculty of English, St Catharine's College

PhD thesis: Care and Conscience Amidst a Crisis of Presentation: Byron’s Existential Poetics and the Time of the Event

Research interests 
1. British Romanticism
2. Continental Philosophy
3. Critical Theory
4. Late Victorian/Early Modernist Literature


Reading Byron’s poetry within the larger context of a Romantic response to an idealist crisis of presentation, my PhD follows the Byronic problematic of human agency along converging lines of temporality and praxis. As his characters are propelled through events that are open-ended in their immanent corporeal causes as well as their personal and political consequences, Byron seems to indicate that events continually outpace their apprehension. Thrown into the world, the subject no longer stands on stable epistemic and ontological ground as the weight of the past and the uncertainty of the future bear down on the present moment. Byron famously described his magnum opus as ‘life’ itself, and accordingly his work is ripe with existential themes. In order to conceptualise these motifs—amongst which the erosion of subjective self-presence is central—through the focal lens of eventicity, my inquiry will draw from Heideggerian and Derridean ideas about temporality.


Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

I was inspired to pursue my research interests by an early and continued exposure to critical theory during my undergraduate degree, a trajectory that led me towards exploring the split between philosophy and theory during the Romantic period. I have tried to work my philosophical interests into my literary readings ever since, in an attempt to liaise between different modes of apprehending the world. Romanticism, then, appeals to me as a diverse and pivotal stage in literary and intellectual history. My academic introduction to Byron was thanks to Dr Robert McColl, whose work continues to inform and inspire my research.