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Title page for ETD etd-11182016-234315
|Type of Document
||Mullins, Katherine V.
||Sensory Signs: Perception and Passion in Eliza Haywood's Fantomina
||Master of Arts
- whore dialogues
- Molyneux problem
- double principle
|Date of Defense
This paper argues that Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina inverts the sensory thought experiment known as the Molyneux problem. Haywood establishes a clear distinction between different types of sensory perception in Fantomina and insists upon the inefficacy of the individual senses to reliably transmit knowledge about the protagonist’s identity. Additionally, Haywood’s text maintains a level of skepticism regarding the reliability of the combination of the senses to afford Beauplaisir understanding of the lady’s identity. Haywood presents Beauplaisir as an unreliable spectator whose investment in sensory excitement renders him unable to discern the suspicious similarities among his lover’s many disguises. Beauplaisir accepts his superficial perceptions uncritically, and in doing so, he emphasizes the correlation between passion and immediate perception. The unnamed protagonist, however, preserves a distance from her own passion by seizing control of her romantic entanglements with Beauplaisir, in which she dictates the terms of their rendezvous in a usurpation of gender roles. By manipulating Beauplaisir’s sensory perception of her identity, the protagonist of Fantomina reframes the philosophical and aesthetic trends mentioned above in order to imagine a greater degree of agency for eighteenth-century women.
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