A study of the deployment of the pastoral in amatory, utopian, and gothic fiction by three Eighteenth-Century female pastoralists: Eliza Haywood, Sarah Scott, and Ann Radcliffe

Edens, Leah (2019) A study of the deployment of the pastoral in amatory, utopian, and gothic fiction by three Eighteenth-Century female pastoralists: Eliza Haywood, Sarah Scott, and Ann Radcliffe. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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The pastoral is a famously flexible genre that through its articulation of binary oppositions allows for exploration and possibility. The pastoral within these texts operates in various ways: as a landscape, a retreat, a genre, a tradition, and finally, I will argue, as an articulation of interiority. This thesis focuses on the relationship of the pastoral with the amatory, utopian, and gothic genres in selected works of three major female authors of the eighteenth century and how these amalgamations see the pastoral working in cooperation and contention with these other genres. In chapter one, I will read three of Eliza Haywood’s texts - Love in Excess, The British Recluse, and Lasselia - as amatory, pastoral works, looking at the many and varied sexual situations articulated through the retreats of these texts in an examination of Haywood’s focus on spatial aspects of the pastoral. Haywood’s repeated articulation of the country versus city binary offers an opportunity to explore female sexual identity as well as what is and what is not permissible within the pastoral space and how the permeability of that boundary complicates the pastoral. In chapter two, I argue the pastoral retreat of Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall is represented as a specifically female-centered pastoral community in juxtaposition with repeated depictions of the corruption found in the city across the strictly delineated boundary of the two. While this articulation is reminiscent of other single-sex pastoral spaces, as I will detail, Scott’s representation of the conventions of the retreat are amalgamated with those of the utopia in a narrative consideration of both mid-eighteenth-century female concerns and concerns of the Bluestockings more specifically, including female identity as it relates to female friendship, idleness, marriage, and futurity. In chapter three I will argue that Radcliffe presents the pastoral as a physical space in the form of landscape and retreat but also that she explores its conventions and dualities as interiority and in abstract elements of the text through the melding of gothic and pastoral concerns including imaginations, imagery, situations, and characters. This close coalescence pushes the pastoral further by raising not only the conventional binaries of country versus city and innocence versus corruption but also the concept of a pastoral ideology abstracted rather than solely linked to a physical space. The amalgamation of the pastoral with a second genre in these female-authored texts emphasises the generic flexibility of the pastoral as well as offers a means of reading these particular works through a lens of social commentary that considers both reality, as they see it, and the possibilities put forth in a space of fantasy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0441 18th century
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2019 12:24
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/87833

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