Bowers 2011 Force

Title Information

Author: Toni Bowers

Title: Force or Fraud

Subtitle: British Seduction Stories and the Problem of Resistance, 1660–1760

Place: Oxford

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Year: 2011

Pages: xvi + 365pp.

ISBN-13: 9780199592135 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 17th Century, 18th Century | English History | Representations: Literature

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Additional Information

Author: Toni Bowers, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania


  Acknowledgments (p. ix)
  List of Illustrations (p. xi)
  Note on the Text and Abbreviations (p. xii)
  Preface (p. xiii)
  Introduction: "Force or Fraud"? (p. 1)
  I: Passive Obedience: Seduction Paradigms and Old-Tory Mythmaking
  1. Seduction Stories in Seventeenth-Century Literary History (p. 29)
  2. The Problem of Resistance in Old-Tory Ideology: Passive Obedience, Seduction Plots, and the Five Love-Letters (p. 52)
  3. Seduction and Sedition: James, Duke of Monmouth and Seduction-Story Paradigms (p. 73)
  4. Seduction and Resistance in the 1680s: Behn's Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister (p. 103)
  Bridge: Modulating Tory Sensibility
  5. Tory Sensibilities Old and New: The Perils of False Brethren and Passive Obedience (p. 139)
  II: Collusive Resistance: Seduction Stories and New-Tory Virtue
  6. The Problem of Collusion: Manley's The New Atalantis (p. 161)
  7. Constructing Scandalous Virtue: The Adventures of Rivella and Two Perjur'd Beauties (p. 193)
  8. Making a Virtue of Complicity: Haywood's Scandal Fiction (p. 223)
  9. Collusive Resistance and Complicit Virtue in the 1740s: Richardson's Pamela and Clarissa (p. 248)
  Coda: After the Jacobites
  Sir Charles Grandison and Late Eighteenth-Century Seduction Fiction (p. 295)
  Bibliography (p. 310)
  Index (p. 347)


»Force or fraud - rape or seduction? This book examines the development, between the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the accession of George III in 1760, of the peculiarly modern habit of making that distinction on the basis of female responsive agency. It tells the story of how rape and seduction came to be distinguished according to measures of women's resistance and consent in low-brow "amatory" writing, and how at the same time amatory fictions interrogated the implications of their own procedures, implications still very much with us today.
The amatory tales of Aphra Behn, Delarivier Manley, Eliza Haywood, and Samuel Richardson - early pioneers in British prose fiction - were immensely popular in their day. But they were also scandalous and controversial, not least because they so often depicted innocent young women under assault from men in positions of legitimate authority over them. Focusing on an ideologically-inflected strategy it calls "collusive resistance," Force or Fraud uncovers the paradoxical means by which formulaic late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century seduction stories wielded a surprising degree of power and influence - not only over female imaginations, publication lists, and leisure time, but also over the interpretation of one of the age's most troubling problems, the problem of constructing virtuous resistance to those in authority. Stories about the ambiguous seductions of young women helped British political subjects negotiate a period of dramatic change and uncertainty, and to imagine newly legitimate forms of resistance.« [Source: Oxford University Press]


Dabhoiwala, Faramerz. The English Historical Review 128(530) (February 2013): 161-162. – Full Text: Oxford Journals [Restricted Access]

Devlin, E.L. Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 11(2) (Fall 2011): 123-127. – Full Text: Project MUSE [Restricted Access]

O’Donnell, Mary A. The Scriblerian and the Kit-Cats 45(2) (Spring 2013): 262-264 – Full Text: Project MUSE [Restricted Access]

Added: August 10, 2013 | Last updated: August 10, 2013