Possessed : embodiment, circulation, & subjectivity in Robinson Crusoe, Roderick Random, & Rob Roy Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/pg15bh36n

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  • A majority of eighteenth-century novels remain in regular print over two hundred years since their inception. Yet with the possible exception of Robinson Crusoe, they have largely fallen out of popularity, rarely appearing on "The Summer's Hottest Reading" lists or receiving celebrity endorsement. I consider Ian Watt's foundational study, The Rise of the Novel, as well as Deidre Lynch's new historicist revisions in The Economy of Character to qualify an assumption that today's readers owe much of their expectations of novels to eighteenth-century British novelists. This project takes particular interest in the development of subjectivity among three self-narrating male protagonists from the beginning, middle, and end of the eighteenth century. The first chapter examines Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, especially Crusoe's possessive individualism inherited from John Locke and the retroactive influence of Bruno Latour's Actor Network Theory (ANT). The second chapter considers Tobias Smollett's Roderick Random as an example of individual subjectivity established through circulation, mirroring the credit culture rising to prominence throughout the century. The third chapter positions Sir Walter Scott's Rob Roy as a backward glance at individual subjectivity challenged and facilitated through encounters with increasingly diverse Others, especially drawing on theorists Emmanuel Levinas and Slavoj Žižek.
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