Wood 2009 Danger

Title Information

Author: L. Maren Wood

Title: Dangerous Liaisons

Subtitle: Narratives of Sexual Danger in the Anglo-American North, 1770-1820

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Year: 2009

Pages: viii + 255pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 18th Century, 19th Century | U.S. History | Cases: Offenders / Hans Bedlow, Richard Croucher, John Doyle, Stephen Murphy, Charles Wakely, Ephraim Wheeler; Cases: Victims / Rebecca Day, Rebecca Fay, Margaret Miller, Lanah Sawyers, Betsy Wheeler; Prosecution: Trials; Representations: Literature / John Cleland, Samuel Richardson

Full Text

Link: Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Free Access)

Additional Information

Abstract: »In this dissertation, I seek to understand why Anglo-Americans in the early Republic became preoccupied with stories about sex, especially narratives in which sex was perceived as dangerous. Historians of sexuality have identified the late eighteenth century as an important moment in the transformation of sexual ideologies. Sex became increasingly politicized and connected to ideas about nationhood and citizenship. The regulation of sex was part of a larger transition in which populations were regulated, categorized, and controlled. The Anglo-American North is a dynamic time and place to examine these larger trends – this was the time when white Americans were actively creating a national culture, one that included white people and excluded blacks and aboriginal peoples. I show that, starting in the 1770s, Anglo-Americans increasingly published stories in newspapers, magazines, and novels, in which people were punished for illicit sexual acts. I argue that this increased attention was connected to ideas of Republican virtue. Narratives of sexual danger reflected a belief that immorality would undermine the family, the basic unit of the Republic. Men and women shared in the responsibility of preserving the Republic by controlling their passions.« (Source: Thesis)


  Abstract (p. iii)
  Acknowledgements (p. v)
  List of Illustrations (p. viii)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter One. Seduction (p. 16)
    Seduction narratives: to teach and titillate (p. 22)
      Pamela and Fanny Hill (p. 22)
    Seduction in early America (p. 36)
      The tropes of seduction (p. 37)
      Seduction stories and sexual desire (p. 44)
      Consequences for seduction (p. 50)
    Conclusion (p. 59)
  Chapter Two. Rape (p. 63)
    Force (p. 70)
    Against her will (p. 90)
    Rape trials as erotica (p. 105)
    Conclusion (p. 109)
  Chapter Three. Adultery (p. 112)
    The Male Adulterer (p. 119)
    The Cuckold (p. 139)
    Conclusion (p. 156)
  Chapter Four. Incest (p. 158)
    Incest Taboo (p. 161)
    Unnatural Fathers (p. 170)
    Accidental incest (p. 178)
    In-law incest (p. 190)
    Conclusion (p. 197)
  Chapter Five. Veneral Disease (p. 199)
    The "Moderns": Venereal Disease and Colonial Spaces (p. 203)
    The "Ancients": Venereal Disease and European Brothels (p. 215)
    Anglo-American explorers, Indians, and Venereal Disease (p. 217)
    Venereal Disease and Europeans (p. 230)
    Conclusion (p. 236)
  Conclusion (p. 238)
  Bibliography (p. 243)
    Archival Collections (p. 243)
    Newspaper and Periodicals (p. 243)
    Pamphlets and Books (p. 246)
    Books and Articles (p. 248)

Wikipedia: John Cleland: Fanny Hill; Samuel Richardson: Clarissa

Added: December 27, 2014 – Last updated: December 27, 2014