Date of Award

Spring 4-20-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Malinda Snow

Second Advisor

Lynee Gaillet

Third Advisor

Murray Brown


"Elizabeth Carter's Legacy: Friendship and Ethics" examines the written evidence about the relationships between Elizabeth Carter and her father, Dr. Nocolas Carte; Catherine Talbot; Sir William Pulteney (Lord Bath); and Samuel Johnson to explain how intellectual and personal relationships may become the principal ethical sdource of human happiness. Based on their own set of moral values, such as intellectual and individual liberty and equality, the relationships between Carter and her friends challenged eighteenth-century traditional norms of human relationships.

The primary source of this study, Carter's poetry and prose, including her letters, present the poet's experience of intellectual and individual friendship, reflecting Aristotle's ethics, specifically his moral teaching that views friendship as a human good contributing to human happiness--to the chief human good. Carter's poems devoted to her friends, such as Dr. Carter, Talbot, Montagu, Lord Bath, as well as her "A Dialogue" between Body and Mind, demonstrate her ethical legacy, her specific moral principles that elevated human relationships and human life. Carter's discussion of human relationships introduces the moral necessity of ethics in human life.