Making Space: The Case for Amatory Fiction



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This dissertation explores amatory fiction as a genre significant to English literary history. I ground the study of amatory fiction in literary history, specifically exploring the ways that amatory fiction participates in the development of the novel. In amatory fiction, female characters express desire in a public setting, a feature that distinguishes amatory fiction from the novel, where characters more often express themselves in private, domestic spaces. By analyzing the various expressions of female desire in the works of Aphra Behn, Delarivier Manley, Eliza Haywood, and Daniel Defoe, I show that female characters are motivated to inhabit public space because they seek to know themselves as sexual, social, and political agents. I also locate representations of the Restoration and eighteenth-century coquette in amatory fiction in order to illustrate how female characters manage both their spatial and social position in various public settings. This study’s taxonomy of characters ranges from minor characters to titular heroines, revealing an equal representation of female desire in amatory fiction and, subsequently, English history.



Amatory fiction, Female desire, Coquette, Public space