Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor P. Walmsley
Through an examination of scenarios of seeing and being seen in selected texts of Eliza Haywood, the dissertation examines how forms of power are conducted through the operations of sight and seeing, with the specific tasks of theorizing forms of agency for women that would allow them to evade a dominating, often voyeuristic, male gaze. Eighteenth-century texts that foreground ocular experience, including Addison and Steele's Spectator, Johnson's Rambler and Le Sage's Le Diable Boiteux, historicize and contextualize the discussion. Lacan's theory of the gaze, whereby subjectivity is conferred within the visual field, informs the argument, as do theories of the female gaze developed by feminist film critics. Haywood explored strategies which undermine the conventional male spectator/female spectacle structure of looking, and demonstrated that by manoeuvring within the limitations imposed by their role as objects of sight, women can exercise forms of power. Ultimately the thesis argues that Haywood's own strategy as an author involved the direct appropriation of the spectator position as a means of establishing discursive authority.
Merritt, Juliette, "Beyond Spectacle: Eliza Haywood's Female Spectators" (1998). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2140.