Change of Condition: Women's Rhetorical Strategies on Marriage, 1710-1756

Change of Condition: Women's Rhetorical Strategies on Marriage, 1710-1756

Date: December 2005
Creator: Wood, Laura Thomason
Description: This dissertation examines ways in which women constructed and criticized matrimony both before and after their own marriages. Social historians have argued for the rise of companionacy in the eighteenth century without paying attention to women's accounts of the fears and uncertainties surrounding the prospect of marriage. I argue that having more latitude to choose a husband did not diminish the enormous impact that the choice would have on the rest of a woman's life; if anything, choice might increase that impact. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Hester Mulso Chapone, Mary Delany, and Eliza Haywood recorded their anxieties about and their criticisms of marriage in public and private writings from the early years of the century into the 1750s. They often elide their own complex backgrounds in favor of generalized policy statements on what constitutes a good marriage. These women promote an ideal of marriage based on respect and similarity of character, suggesting that friendship is more honest, and durable than romantic love. This definition of ideal marriage enables these women to argue for more egalitarian marital relationships without overtly calling for a change in the wife's traditional role. The advancement of this ideal of companionacy gave women a means of ...
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Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell

Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell

Date: May 2008
Creator: Smith, Victoria
Description: Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell examines the Restoration and eighteenth-century libertine figure as it appears in John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester's Satyr against Mankind, "The Maim'd Debauchee," and "Upon His Drinking a Bowl," Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine, William Wycherley's The Country Wife, and James Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763. I argue that the limitations and self-contradictions of standard definitions of libertinism and the ways in which libertine protagonists and libertinism in general function as critiques of libertinism. Moreover, libertine protagonists and poetic personae reinterpret libertinism to accommodate their personal agendas and in doing so, satirize the idea of libertinism itself and identify the problematization of "libertinism" as a category of gender and social identity. That is, these libertines misinterpret-often deliberately-Hobbes to justify their opposition and refusal to obey social institutions-e.g., eventually marrying and engaging in a monogamous relationship with one's wife-as well as their endorsement of obedience to nature or sense, which can include embracing a libertine lifestyle in which one engages in sexual encounters with multiple partners, refuses marriage, and questions the existence of God or at least distrusts any sort of organized religion. Since any attempts to define the word "libertinism"-or at least ...
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Paradox and Balance in the Anglo-Saxon Mind of Beowulf

Paradox and Balance in the Anglo-Saxon Mind of Beowulf

Date: May 2008
Creator: Fox, Bonnie L.
Description: This essay argues that the Anglo-Saxon poet of Beowulf presents the reader with a series of paradoxes and attempts to find a balance within these paradoxes. At the forefront is the paradox of past and present, explored through the influence of the past on the characters in the poem as well as the poet. Additionally, the poem offers the paradox of light and dark, which ultimately suggests light and dark as symbols of Christianity and paganism. Finally, the land and the sea offer the third primary paradox, indicating the relationship that the characters and poet had with land and sea, while also reflecting the other paradoxes in the poem. The result is the desire to find balance within the paradoxes through the recognition of ongoing tension.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
The Afro-British Slave Narrative: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Kairos of Abolition

The Afro-British Slave Narrative: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Kairos of Abolition

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Date: December 1999
Creator: Evans, Dennis F.
Description: The dissertation argues that the development of the British abolition movement was based on the abolitionists' perception that their actions were kairotic; they attempted to shape their own kairos by taking temporal events and reinterpreting them to construct a kairotic process that led to a perceived fulfillment: abolition. Thus, the dissertation examines the rhetorical strategies used by white abolitionists to construct an abolitionist kairos that was designed to produce salvation for white Britons more than it was to help free blacks. The dissertation especially examines the three major texts produced by black persons living in England during the late eighteenth centuryIgnatius Sancho's Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho (1782), Ottobauh Cugoano's Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery (1787), and Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789)to illustrate how black rhetoric was appropriated by whites to fulfill their own kairotic desires. By examining the rhetorical strategies employed in both white and black rhetorics, the dissertation illustrates how the abolitionists thought the movement was shaped by, and how they were shaping the movement through, kairotic time. While the dissertation contends that the abolition movement was rhetorically designed to provide redemption, ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Superior Mirth: National Humor and the Victorian Ego

Superior Mirth: National Humor and the Victorian Ego

Date: May 2012
Creator: Stober, Katharyn L.
Description: This project traces the wide and varied uses of patriotic (and, at times, jingoistic and xenophobic) humor within the Victorian novel. a culture’s humor, perhaps more than any other cultural markers (food, dress, etc.), provides invaluable insight into that nation’s values and perceptions—not only how they view others, but also how they view themselves. in fact, humor provides such a unique cultural thumbprint as to make most jokes notoriously untranslatable. Victorian humor is certainly not a new topic of critical discussion; neither is English ethno-cultural identity during this era lacking scholarly attention. However, the intersection of these concerns has been seemingly ignored; thus, my research investigates the enmeshed relationship between these two areas of study. Not only do patriotic sentiment and humor frequently overlap, they often form a causational relationship wherein a writer’s rhetorical invocation of shared cultural experiences creates humorous self-awareness while “inside” jokes which reference unique Anglo-specific behaviors or collective memories promote a positive identity with the culture in question. Drawing on and extending the work of James Kincaid’s Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter, Harold Nicolson’s “The English Sense of Humor,” and Bergson’s and Freud’s theories of humor as a social construct, I question how this reciprocated ...
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The Gender of Time in the Eighteenth-century English Novel

The Gender of Time in the Eighteenth-century English Novel

Date: December 1998
Creator: Leissner, Debra Holt
Description: This study takes a structuralist approach to the development of the novel, arguing that eighteenth-century writers build progressive narrative by rendering abstract, then conflating, literary theories of gendered time that originate in the Renaissance with seventeenth-century scientific theories of motion. I argue that writers from the Renaissance through the eighteenth century generate and regulate progress-as-product in their narratives through gendered constructions of time that corresponded to the generation and regulation of economic, political, and social progress brought about by developing capitalism.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Jezebel's Daughters: A Study of Wilkie Collins and His Female Villains

Jezebel's Daughters: A Study of Wilkie Collins and His Female Villains

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Date: August 2000
Creator: Colvin, Trey Vincent
Description: The term "feminist," when applied to Wilkie Collins, implies he was concerned with rectifying the oppression of women in domestic life as well as with promoting equal rights between the sexes. This study explores Collins the "feminist" by analyzing his portrayals of women, particularly his most powerful feminine creations: his villainesses. Although this focus is somewhat limited, it allows for a detailed analysis of the development of Collins's attitudes towards powerful women from the beginning to the end of his career. It examines the relationship between Collins's developing moral attitudes and social beliefs, on the one hand, and the ideas of Victorian feminists such as Josephine Butler and feminist sympathizers such as John Stuart Mill, on the other. This interaction, while never overt, reveals the ambivalence and complexity of Collins's "feminist" attitudes. Of the five novels in this study, Antonina (1850), Basil (1852), Armadale (1866), Jezebel's Daughter (1880), and The Legacy of Cain (1889), only one was published at the zenith of Collins's career in the 1860s. Each of the villainesses in these novels, their ideas and experiences, are crucial to understanding Collins's "feminist" impulses. Looking at them as powerful women who detest domestic oppression, one becomes aware that Collins ...
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Corporate Christians and Terrible Turks: Economics, Aesthetics, and the Representation of Empire in the Early British Travel Narrative, 1630 - 1780

Corporate Christians and Terrible Turks: Economics, Aesthetics, and the Representation of Empire in the Early British Travel Narrative, 1630 - 1780

Date: December 2003
Creator: Abunasser, Rima Jamil
Description: This dissertation examines the evolution of the early English travel narrative as it relates to the development and application of mercantilist economic practices, theories of aesthetic representation, and discourses of gender and narrative authority. I attempt to redress an imbalance in critical work on pre-colonialism and colonialism, which has tended to focus either on the Renaissance, as exemplified by the works of critics such as Stephen Greenblatt and John Gillies, or on the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as in the work of scholars such as Srinivas Aravamudan and Edward Said. This critical gap has left early travel narratives by Sir Francis Moore, Jonathan Harris, Penelope Aubin, and others largely neglected. These early writers, I argue, adapted the conventions of the travel narrative while relying on the authority of contemporary commercial practices. The early English travelers modified contemporary conventions of aesthetic representation by formulating their descriptions of non-European cultures in terms of the economic and political conventions and rivalries of the early eighteenth century. Early English travel literature, I demonstrate, functioned as a politically motivated medium that served both as a marker of authenticity, justifying the colonial and imperial ventures that would flourish in the nineteenth century, and as ...
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Samuel Richardson's Revisions to Pamela (1740, 1801)

Samuel Richardson's Revisions to Pamela (1740, 1801)

Date: August 2004
Creator: Bender, Ashley Brookner
Description: The edition of Pamela a person reads will affect his or her perception of Pamela's ascent into aristocratic society. Richardson's revisions to the fourteenth edition of Pamela, published posthumously in 1801, change Pamela's character from the 1740 first edition in such a way as to make her social climb more believable to readers outside the novel and to "readers" inside the novel. Pamela alters her language, her actions, and her role in the household by the end of the first edition; in the fourteenth edition, however, she changes in little more than her title. Pamela might begin as a novel that threatens the fabric of class hierarchies, but it ends-both within the plot and externally throughout its many editions-as a novel that stabilizes and strengthens social norms.
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No Slip-Shod Muse: A Performance Analysis of Some of Susanna Centlivre's Plays

No Slip-Shod Muse: A Performance Analysis of Some of Susanna Centlivre's Plays

Date: May 2000
Creator: Herrell, LuAnn R. Venden
Description: In 1982, Richard C. Frushell urged the necessity for a critical study of Susanna Centlivre's plays. Since then, only a handful of books and articles briefly discuss herand many attempt wrongly to force her into various critical models. Drawing on performativity models, my reading of several Centlivre plays (Love's Contrivance, The Gamester, The Basset-Table and A Bold Stroke for a Wife) asks the question, "What was it like to see these plays in performance?" Occupying somewhat uneasy ground between literature and theatre studies, I borrow useful tools from both, to create what might be styled a New Historicist Dramaturgy. I urge a re-examination of the period 1708-28. The standard reading of theatre of the period is that it was static. This "dry spell" of English theatre, most critics agree, was filled with stock characters and predictable plot lines. But it is during this so-called "dry spell" that Centlivre refines her stagecraft, and convinces cautious managers to bank on her work, providing evidence that playwrights of the period were subtly experimenting. The previous trend in scholarship of this cautious and paranoid era of theatre history has been to shy away from examining the plays in any depth, and fall back on ...
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