Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2022

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



My dissertation argues that female writers in the eighteenth century engaged in fictional acts of world-making. Departing from the new modes of realist writing and the established precedents of romance, such female writers as Eliza Haywood, Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Scott, Sarah Fielding, and Jane Collier created a distinctive mode of utopian writing. They believed that fiction was not restricted to the job of representation but could imagine unrealized social possibilities. The strategies of fictional world-making I analyze include the deployment of romance scripts to change given structures of courtship, the repeated use of romance plot devices and character types to overcome expected outcomes, and the use of description to offer social arrangements that defy the mortal world of narrative time. I identify a specific set of formal devices that define and propel such fictional world-making: the externalization of fantasy, embedded narratives, collaborative narration, and varied repetition. In this way, my dissertation addresses questions of narrative form in light of a revised history of feminist writing. These texts’ visionary elements, while often presenting as smaller-scale worlds that occasionally collaborate with rather than overturn dominant systems, still act as powerful and empowering tools for women.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Wolfram Schmidgen

Committee Members

Tili Boon Cuillé

Available for download on Friday, August 23, 2024