Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Suzanne Daly

Second Advisor

Joselyn Almeida-Beveridge

Third Advisor

Heather Richardson

Subject Categories

Literature in English, British Isles


This dissertation looks at nineteenth-century British writers who developed strategies for making use of the patterns of addiction. I consider how writers built texts around addicted characters whose condition drives them always to search for something more even while they live repetitiously, resulting in repetitive texts of endless pursuit. Such literary strategies of addiction, evident in works by writers ranging from Percy Shelley to George Eliot and beyond, emphasize narratives structured around affectively charged, exploratory repetition. The theoretical framework for this project draws from a tradition of criticism that focuses on literary orientation toward possibility and possible worlds. Possible-worlds theorists and critics have described how specific attitudes toward possibility shape texts; addiction, I argue, intensifies a sense of unattained possibility that must be endlessly sought, and so addiction-like narratives consequently involve narrative worlds of intensified mystery and possibility.