Phoebe Braithwaite

Phoebe Braithwaite

Department of English
phoebebraithwaite [at] g.harvard.edu

Phoebe Braithwaite’s research interests can broadly be summarized under the banner of “intersections between individualism and literary difficulty,” and her specific field of interest is in late 19th and early 20th century poetry and criticism, as well as the reception of early modern texts into the 20th century. Many of the poets/thinkers she is interested in navigate an uneasy historical juncture and are accused of regression to childhood, or “hugging to [themselves] a private dream-world” (William Empson).

In relationship to this, Phoebe is making a video that captures youthful response to ostensibly arcane literary material, investigating the bold claim that “true poetry communicates before it is understood” (T.S. Eliot). In the UK in the last year, the Conservative Education Minister Michael Gove announced intentions for students to learn, in full, two Shakespeare plays by the time they are fourteen. Phoebe views this as an opportunity (both with CMP, and in the global climate of fiscal and cultural austerity) to ask questions about the claims art makes towards “universality,” and the extent to which advancement in learning and years are necessary conditions of artistic immersion.