Come by tomorrow, Wednesday February 22 at noon for a great lecture by our own Dr. Joseph Drury. Co-sponsored by the Gender & Women's Studies and English departments.
"Libertines and Machines in Enlightenment Britain"
Dr. Drury's talk is drawn from a section of his forthcoming book, Novel Machines: Technology and Narrative Form in Enlightenment Britain. It reads the seduction fiction of Eliza Haywood, published in the 1720s, as a critique of male libertinism that responds to the two competing interpretations of Hobbes's materialism circulating in early eighteenth-century Britain. Like Hobbes, Haywood's characters are machines, whose wills are entirely determined by the desires produced in them by external objects. But her characters draw very different conclusions from this basic premise. Her male characters tend to be "libertine machines," who claim that because their transgressions are determined by external causes, they cannot be blamed or held responsible for them. Her heroines, on the other hand, are "thinking machines," who argue that although people’s actions are indeed entirely determined by external causes, they can still be held responsible for their actions so long as they are voluntary—that is, as long as they proceed from the will following a thought or deliberative process in the mind. Haywood thus exposes the cynicism of the libertine’s claim to be a blameless automaton and shows that his failure to deliberate results not from the intensity of his passion but from the double standard in social attitudes towards male and female sexual transgression.
Please RSVP to the GWS coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lunch will be provided.
See you all tomorrow in Falvey 204!