Beyond Spectacle

Beyond Spectacle: Eliza Haywood's Female Spectators

Juliette Merritt
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 190
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442671379
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Spectacle
    Book Description:

    Beyond Spectaclewill cement Haywood's deservedly prominent place in the canon of eighteenth-century fiction and position her as a writer whose work speaks not only to female agency, but to eighteenth-century writers, gender relations, and power politics as well.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7137-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-2)
  3. Introduction Gazing in the Eighteenth Century: Eliza Haywood’s Specular Negotiations
    (pp. 3-24)

    My first encounter with Eliza Haywood wasBath Intrigues,one of her early scandal chronicles published anonymously in 1725.¹ This short pamphlet, consisting only of four letters from J.B., visiting at Bath, to his friend Will in London, is a piece of scandal writing that foregrounds a specular system of spying and gossip which includes explicit scenes of sexual voyeurism, scenes which in turn prompt sexual extortion and blackmail. Although ‘Pedigree’ is the main topic of conversation at Bath, ‘Intrigue’ is Will’s ‘darling Theme,’ so J.B. promises to act as an ‘Intelligence’ and relate the illicit sexual intrigues of the...

  4. Chapter One An Excess of Spectacle: The Failure of Female Curiosity in Love in Excess; or, The Fatal Enquiry
    (pp. 25-44)

    In No. 46 of Addison and Steele’sSpectator,a letter is published from an ‘Ogling Master’ wishing to show the Spectator his manuscript,The Compleat Ogler,wherein he claims to have perfected the ‘whole Art of Ogling,’ including the ‘Church Ogle’ and the ‘Playhouse Ogle’ (1: 199). Reference to an ‘Art of Ogling,’ however ironic, reflects the eighteenth-century preoccupation with seeing and being seen; for Foucault, ‘the foreign spectator in an unknown country, and the man born blind restored to light’ were the two myths underlying eighteenth-century philosophy (Birth of the Clinic65). This focus on observation, spawned by the...

  5. Chapter Two Peepers, Picts, and Female Masquerade: Performances of the Female Gaze in Fantomina; or, Love in a Maze
    (pp. 45-72)

    Haywood’sFantominahas attracted considerable interest from feminist critics because it offers a surprisingly contemporary model of female agency. With its deployment of masquerade and disguise, and the connection it makes between female sexuality and performance,Fantominarepresents the protean aspects of female subjectivity. The heroine of the novel, an unidentified aristocratic woman (Lady —), adopts a series of disguises – prostitute, maid, widow, and a masked Incognita – as a way, in the first instance, to acquire sexual knowledge, and then as a strategy to retain the sexual attention of her inconstant lover, Beauplaisir, who remains unaware that he repeatedly enjoys...

  6. Chapter Three From Image to Text: The Discourse of Abandonment and Textual Agency in The British Recluse; or, The Secret History of Cleomira, Supposed Dead
    (pp. 73-94)

    The inspiration for the voyeuristic display of women in Haywood, as well as in Behn and Manley, may be found in Restoration theatre. InThe First English ActressesElizabeth Howe explores how the introduction of women players on the stage altered the dramatic representation of women. With the advent of the actress came the propensity to specularize the female body: ‘the heroine’s important quality was her beauty. Actresses were frequently required to do no more than pose, like pictures, or statues, to be gazed upon and desired by male characters in the play and, presumably, by male spectators.’ Howe goes...

  7. Chapter Four The Spectatorial Text: Spying, Writing, Authority in The Invisible Spy and Bath Intrigues
    (pp. 95-116)

    The question of how women, specifically, occupy the authorial position is currently being addressed by feminist theorists. At issue are not only the obstacles women might face in establishing discursive authority, but also the gender-specific rhetorical strategies they successfully employ in order to enter public discourse. The focus of Susan Sniader Lanser’sFictions of Authority(1992) is, as the author states, a writer’s ‘project of self-authorization [which is] implicit in the very act of authorship ... [R]egardless of any woman writer’s ambivalence toward authoritative institutions and ideologies, the act of writing a novel and seeking to publish it ... is...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 117-120)

    Lady Leer successfully manages her ‘necessary specularity,’ as do Fantomina and the Female Spectator. These figures have strategies that enable them to live and participate in the world. Writers such as Mary Astell or Sarah Scott advocated a different option; they saw retirement communities for women as an antidote for, among other things, female vanity – women’s too great attachment to their specular role. The separate space they envisioned would give women the opportunity to develop their capacity for rational conversation, and to lead useful and meaningful lives rather than exist as mere ‘Cyphers in the World’ (Serious Proposal6). Haywood,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 121-138)
  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 139-148)
  11. Index
    (pp. 149-154)