Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Brett Wilson

Committee Members

Giulia Pacini

Erin Minear


I argue that Jean-Jacques Rousseau established a new literary genre, which I call the reverie, with his final work, Reveries of a Solitary Walker (1778). Although similar in some ways to a confession, a more common form of autobiography that Rousseau also used earlier in his life, the reverie genre differs from the confession in purpose, in form, and in the priority it gives to the narrator’s thought process. After examining the characteristics that distinguish Rousseau’s Reveries from his Confessions, I will turn to Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground (1864) and British-American literary critic and poet T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1911), and argue that they too are members of the reverie genre. The genre features narrators lost in wandering thoughts, trapped in self-analysis, and isolated from society. Through these narrators, the members of this genre demonstrate that experiences often associated with the twentieth century and stream of consciousness technique are not uniquely modern.

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