All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Kyle Grimes

Advisory Committee Members

Daniel Siegel

Samantha Webb

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts in Education (MAE) School of Education


For my thesis, I claim that John Keats's poem, The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream, exemplifies the aesthetic theory of German philosopher/poet/playwright Friedrich Schiller as explicated in On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters. I am analyzing Keats's poem through Samuel Taylor Coleridge's theory of the symbol as asserted in The Statesman's Manual . . . in conjunction with Schiller's aesthetic letters, and my claim is that Keats's poem illustrates Schiller's theory of the play-drive. What Schiller terms as the play-drive is what happens cognitively when we make and/or encounter the beautiful in art. He claims that we transcend our material selves when we make and/or encounter the beautiful, and in transcending toward our formal selves, we are able to look back onto ourselves and feel pleasure from the beautiful. Schiller claims that because we are embodied, we first experience the beautiful through our sensuous drive, and when that happens, we then rationalize the experience and transcend to a higher plane of formal consciousness. This philosophy, along with Coleridge's ideas on the symbol, suggests that during the process of the human imagination, our subjectivity becomes projected onto an objectified symbol. When this happens, our subjectivity fuses with this objective symbol, we become free to be who we will ourselves to be, and we know ourselves as human beings. In that moment, as we can see ourselves as part of a universal humanity, we self-actualize. Schiller believed that beauty is what links the sense experience, what he terms to be the material impulse, or sensuous drive, with the rational, what he terms to be the formal impulse or formal drive; in other words, beauty synthesizes these two impulses, balancing the two drives. Schiller's play instinct integrates the two impulses and represents the movement between the faculties of sense and reason; this play-drive gives us freedom--as in, one faculty or the other cannot enslave us. On the literal, meta-level, Keats's acts of both imagination and composition function in the same way as Schiller's play-drive, and I see The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream following this aesthetic pattern structurally and figuratively.

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