Awful Nearness: A Literary and Cultural History of Rape, 1740-1900


ACLS Fellowship Program




“Awful Nearness” studies the intersection of two preoccupations of the early English novel: rape and otherness. Its central claim is that between 1740 and 1900, rape was a representational site for novelists concerned with exploring the essential isolation of human minds and the various ways such minds try and fail to connect to one another. This literary tradition simultaneously tracks the progress of British women’s evolving status as political subjects, from the eighteenth century, when women were largely seen as political “others” within their own country, to the turn of the twentieth century, when their political subjectivity was increasingly recognized. The project thus tells a forgotten, even suppressed, history of both the English novel and the formation of the liberal subject.