The Lady Showroom: Optical Representations in the Works of Joanna Baillie and Louisa Stuart Costello
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Baillie, Costello, Eighteenth century, Optical, Visual, Women
Much women's writing in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries attempts to depict other women visually through textual description, use of optical devices, and discussion of bodies and appearances. This thesis argues that they were trying to see and show other women as a way of understanding themselves and each other by examining intersections between visual culture and text through mirrors, miniatures, and portraits. This thesis demonstrates how these works reflect larger shifts in the optical unconscious of the eighteenth century. I focus on works by Joanna Baillie and Louisa Stuart Costello, who theorize the viewing process in their prose and manipulate the viewing process in their drama and poetry, respectively. By manipulating the gaze these authors show readers new ways of seeing women, and subsequently, themselves, and seek to make them conscious of their optical unconscious; their works become the optical devices that allow this to happen.
Richards, K. (2012). The Lady Showroom: Optical Representations in the Works of Joanna Baillie and Louisa Stuart Costello (Master's thesis, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1101