Fauve Vandenberghe MA
Area(s) of interest: Early Modern History, Gender, Languages & Literature, Eighteenth Century, British History
“Hyenas in Petticoats”: British Female-Authored Satire of the Eighteenth Century, 1670-1760
Supervisor(s): Prof. Andrew Benjamin Bricker, Prof. Marianne Van Remoortel
This project offers the first dedicated study of female-authored satire in Britain during an era often hailed as the Golden Age of Satire (ca. 1670-1760). Scholars of the long eighteenth century have invariably defined this period’s satiric production through a limited corpus of its most enduring—and exclusively male—practitioners, arguing that women simply did not write satire because of the restrictive literary environment for female authors. This project refutes, however, this proclaimed absence of women writers in the satiric tradition. In analyzing a corpus of understudied female satirists, it aims to redefine eighteenth-century satire as a whole. More specifically, it hypothesizes that women writers wrote satirically in amatory fictions and periodical essays, two genres that have often been overlooked as vehicles for satire. This research thus sheds new light on the formal diversity of satire, but it also offers a new perspective on satiric authorship and the social and emotive functions of satire by examining how the different formal properties of these genres alter the texts’ satiric elements. In this way, this project not only contributes to our understanding of the complexity of female authorship by highlighting an understudied aspect of their textual production. More importantly, it also suggests that questioning our own processes of canon formation will lead to a more accurate and diverse portrayal of how satire was actually practiced in the eighteenth century.