Date of Award

Spring 5-2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)





Committee Chair

Dr. William M. Mays

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Dr. Kenneth Watson

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Dr. Damon Franke

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Dr. Philip Kolin

Committee Member 5

Dr. Joseph Navitsky


The supernatural portrayed in Yeats represents a carefully constructed convergence of all major themes in his canon. Yeats's first exposure to myth, the supernatural, and magic occurs in the 1890s when he worked as an editor of William Blake and Irish fairy lore. This experience at once inspired Yeats to explore mysticism and to shroud his own collected works in mystery. With the onset of modernity and the age of criticism this period ushered in, however, he was unable to capitalize on the spiritual as first imagined. As mere aesthetic, peculiar illuminations of the immaterial world Yeats so intensely sought finally signal only his abilities as an editor. Textual and thematic unity in Yeats's canon does not approach the higher spiritual unity he sought before the cruel process of modernity crippled the imagination of his readers and critics. In defiance of harsh criticisms determined to fix or rationalize him, Yeats ultimately mocks this strange and public affair with the occult.