Private Interests: Women, Portraiture, and the Visual Culture of the English Novel, 1709-1791
Published: October 2001© 2001
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 328 Pages
Dimensions: 6.34 x 9.25
328 Pages, 6.34 x 9.25 x 1.13 in
This ambitious interdisciplinary study undertakes a new definition of the eighteenth-century novel's investment in vision and visual culture, tracing the relationship between the development of the novel and that of the equally contentious genre of the portrait, particularly as represented in the novel itself. Working with the novels of Richardson, Fielding, Haywood, Manley, Sterne, Wollstonecraft and Inchbald, and the portraits of Reynolds, Gainsborough, Highmore, Hudson, Hogarth, and others, Private Interests points to the intimate connections between the literary works and the paintings. Arguing that the novel's representation of the portrait sustains a tension between competing definitions of private interests, Conway shows how private interests are figured as simultaneously decorous and illicit in the novel, with the portrait at once an instrument of propriety and of scandal. Examining women's roles as both authors of and characters in the novel and the novel's encounters with the portrait, the author provides a new definition of private interests, one which highlights the development of women's agency as both spectacles and spectators.
- Winner - Raymond Klibansky Prize, Canadian Foundation for the Humanities & Social Sciences