Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Linda S. Coleman


As one of the first novels written, Samuel Richardson's Clarissa serves as an important social text with which to examine the eighteenth century. Most theoretical studies of the emergence of novelistic discourse have interpreted the rise of the new genre as a reflection of other broader socio-economic changes. This study focuses on the role of the novel in bringing about such changes--in articulating particular attitudes, beliefs, and opinions that have come to be associated with the middle class. The study involves an examination of Clarissa, Lovelace, and the Harlowe family as representatives of particular ideologies, or understandings of history, with the novel itself reflecting the historical instability and ideological insecurity of the eighteenth century.