Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form


Beaulieu, Julie (2014) FAMILIAR FEELINGS: EXPERIENCING EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY SEXUALITY. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


This dissertation focuses on sexuality and affect in eighteenth-century British literature in order to demonstrate how a focus on feelings allows for unpredictable links between the past and the present, connections that recognize the intricate imbrication of sexuality and affect. Using the novel as a means to showcase the development of what are now modern methods of reform, such as the cultivation of shame, the medicalization of sex, and the linking of sexual lifestyle and social elevation, I demonstrate how feelings in the early novel helped shape and solidify now familiar reformatory measures that seek to produce and ensure the status quo. Because eighteenth-century literature precedes the widespread medicalization of sexual identities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, writers relied on alternative structures to organize experience and identity, including structures of feeling.

I trace a growing interest in the relationship between affect and sex, an interest that is ushered into the public sphere via novelistic discourse. I begin with two eighteenth-century accounts of sex that are marginally invested in emotions, Henry Fielding’s The Female Husband and John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, and I conclude with two texts that are almost entirely consumed with emotion, Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa and Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy. What emerges from my readings are familiar feelings between the past and present that propose new ways of thinking about a literary history of eighteenth-century sexuality.

Representations of eighteenth-century sexualities offer a productive vantage point for this analysis because the dominant categories of identity that we typically rely upon—heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual—are not yet in circulation. We are invited, then, to study sex before sexualities. Rather than seeing identity as an essentialist term, I represent it here as the crystallization of experiences and feelings. My research demonstrates the central and complex role of emotion in the development of both sexuality and the sexual identities that begin to take shape via shared sentiments.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Beaulieu, Juliejrb107@pitt.eduJRB107
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairArac, Jonathanjarac@pitt.eduJARAC
Committee MemberJennifer, Waldronjwaldron@pitt.eduJWALDRON
Committee MemberThora, Brylowetpb14@pitt.eduTPB14
Committee MemberKristina,
Date: 28 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 February 2014
Approval Date: 28 May 2014
Submission Date: 17 April 2014
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 213
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sexuality, eighteenth-century, affect
Date Deposited: 28 May 2014 14:30
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 05:15


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item