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(IL)Legitimate Problems: Instances of Queer Familial Creation and the Reinforcement of Patriarchal Structure in Eighteenth-Century British Literature

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abstract
In this project I will be using a queer lens to investigate five novels from eighteenth century Britain that use queer themes to reinforce the patriarchal and heteronormative power structure of eighteenth-century society. The first two chapters will focus on sapphic sexual initiations and the implications of female same-sex behavior and female sexual agency in conservative texts. The first chapter focuses on Henry Fielding's The Female Husband, and the perceived threat that female appropriation of masculine gender expression and male sexual agency pose to patriarchal power structure. The second chapter explores the sapphic initiation of Fanny Hill into the phallocentric world of prostitution and the subordination of female sexual agency to the sexual potency of male genitalia in John Cleland's Fanny Hill. The third chapter will investigate instances of male-created families through homosocial bonding in Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, and Clara Reeve's The Old English Baron. Each of these three conservative texts almost entirely erases the role of the female in familial creation. They instead rely on patriarchal authority to legitimize their family units, and rarely rely on women beyond the literal birthing of the child. Each of these five conservative novels seeks to affirm patriarchal structure through their representations of the visible queer subcultures of the eighteenth century, thereby showing the ways in which, in these novels and eighteenth-century society, potential threats to patriarchal power can be re-appropriated in order to reinforce that which they originally threatened.
subject
British Literature
Eighteenth Century
Family Structure
Queer Theory
Sapphism
contributor
Forde-Mazrui, Will Nielsen (author)
Kairoff, Claudia (committee chair)
Jenkins, Melissa (committee member)
date
2013-06-06T21:19:40Z (accessioned)
2013-12-06T09:30:10Z (available)
2013 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
embargo
2013-12-06 (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/38585 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
(IL)Legitimate Problems: Instances of Queer Familial Creation and the Reinforcement of Patriarchal Structure in Eighteenth-Century British Literature
type
Thesis

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