In this article, I argue that, although "Thing Theory" was not so named until the 21st century, and has been mostly applied to prose of the 18th century and not its poetry, Jonathan Swift and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu engaged in a poetic thing theory of their own. For Swift, this meant examining the "thingness" of physical objects, leading to an uncertain conclusion about the poem as an object. For Montagu, the "thingness" of objects was instead downplayed, while the "thingness" of the genre of 18th-century satire, including its often ugly attitude toward women, was foregrounded, asking important questions about just what type of "thing" a poem, and specifically a satire from the 18th century, really is.
Issue and Volume
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Phillips, Eli M.
""All the Litter As It Lay": Swift, Montagu, and Their Practice of Thing Theory,"
Criterion: A Journal of Literary Criticism: Vol. 14:
2, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/criterion/vol14/iss2/3