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Title: Fictions of consumption : novels of the Long Eighteenth Century, 1749-1817
Author: Aronson, Leslie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 536X
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2014
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This project relates the theme of material consumption in novels of the long eighteenth century to the development of the novel genre. Functioning as more than just a reflection of societal concerns, novels shape perceptions of consumption, which in turn inform our understanding of the novel’s development. These perceptions are informed and complicated by a variety of issues presented in eighteenth-century novels including form, nation and national identity, sexuality, labour, commerce, credit and debt, and, in particular, gender. Chapter one looks at Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones and the use of consumption imagery and metaphors as a way of playing with form and genre adaptation; the novel’s awareness of its own status as consumable commodity relates to the metaphoric and physical consumption within the novel’s plot, establishing a relationship between the problematic generic status of Tom Jones and the theme of physical consumption. Through Tobias Smollett’s The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, chapter two examines eighteenth-century concerns regarding women’s consumption through the largely neglected figure of Tabitha Bramble and her reclamation of the corrupting influence of the foreign through her marriage to Lismahago. More than just a critique of the effects of foreign luxury on British society, I argue that Humphry Clinker makes room for the produce of empire through the union of Tabitha and Lismahago. Chapter three analyses Frances Burney’s novel Camilla in relation to its treatment of the commodifying effects of commerce, particularly shopping; drawing parallels between the experience of shopping in the eighteenth century and the marriage market, specifically as relates to the male gaze, the chapter argues that there is a connection between the novel as commodity, created by Burney in order to create profit, and the commodification of Camilla through the male gaze. Chapter four discusses the ways in which Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent, Ennui, and The Absentee utilise Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations as a roadmap for Irish economic and social development but argues that this is problematised through the absence of politics in Smith, which inadvertently complicates Edgeworth’s message of economic
Supervisor: Irvine, Robert; Fielding, Penny Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: material consumption ; eighteenth-century novels ; labour ; commerce ; Wealth of Nations ; Smith ; Adam