Sraddha Venkataraman

PhD Student in English Literature

Expressive Silence in the Poetry of Keats and Clare

Supervisors: Prof Heidi Thomson & AProf Nikki Hessell


This study considers the manifestations of silence and their role in the poetry of John Keats (1795-1821) and John Clare (1793-1864). It addresses particular mentions of, or allusions to, the absence of speech and sound in the work of these poets, while also exploring larger, cultural silences and forms of silencing in the poetry. The thesis attends to Keats and Clare's poetic preoccupation with the essential place silence occupies in poetic expression. Chapters focus on: 1) the frustration Keats expressed towards the silencing of the female voice and desire, and how this takes shape in the poem ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’ and its textual history; 2) the exploitation of the sonnet form by Keats to reflect on different kinds of silences; 3) the relationship between silence and experiences of art in Keats’s odes; 4) Clare’s innovation of the sonnet form to enact silences found in nature; 5) silence, politics, and memory in Clare’s ‘Enclosure’ poems, and 6) silence, love and the pastoral in Clare’s poetry.


Sraddha Venkataraman completed her BA(Hons.) and MA at Durham University, England, before teaching high school English literature and language in Bangalore, India. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, photography, and exploring Wellington's beaches, mountains, and cafes.