Research Stream

People

Lisa O'Connell (Full term)
The University of Queensland
Email

Love and Cruelty: the personae, styles and affects of libertinism

Libertinism is conventionally understood in a relation of tension with sentimental culture, even as it represented the possibility of new relations between the body and the passions.  What kinds of new personae, styles and affective regimes were enabled by libertinage?

Love and Cruelty: the personae, styles and affects of libertinism

Life and Death Contrasted - or, An Essay on Woman, (1794 Robert Dighton. The Art Gallery of Ontario.

This project contributes a specifically eighteenth-century and literary dimension to our efforts to understand the changes in how emotions were understood, expressed and regulated over the long history of Europe 1100-1800. Libertinism (associated with aristocratic license, sexual and political freedom, Hobbist or epicurean materialism and irreligion) is conventionally understood in a relation of tension with sentimental culture, even as it represented the possibility of new relations between the body and the passions.  What kinds of new personae, styles and affective regimes were enabled by libertinage?  How were they different to, or in continuity with, those of sentimentalism?  How do the extravagant insouciance, wit, nihilism or cruelty of the rake, for instance, enable or complicate the reading protocols of attachment, identification and sympathy forged in early sentimental novels, for instance? Surveying the work of key libertine writers, including the Earl of Rochester, Aphra Behn and John Wilkes, alongside novelists of the period such as Richardson and Sterne, the project begins the task of considering the emotional personae and styles of libertinism and considers its role within the affective regimes of sentiment and sympathy that increasing define mainstream literary culture of the eighteenth century. The project draws upon and further develops my previous publications on libertinism and courtesan memoirs with the intention of exploring new links between the history of sexuality and the history of emotion.


Publications

O'Connell, Lisa (2014). 'The Libertine, the Rake, and the Dandy: Personae, Styles, and Affects'. In The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature, edited by Ellen McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen, pp. 218-38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.