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Dissertation Abstracts

Liu, Emily. The Ins and Outs of Inns in Eighteenth-Century British Culture and Fiction. University of California, Irvine, 2012.

The Ins and Outs of Inns in Eighteenth-Century British Culture and Fiction investigates the inn and the novel as eighteenth-century inventions whose dynamic relationship has so far gone unexamined. Between the publication of Defoe's Moll Flanders (1722) and Smollett's Humphry Clinker (1770), both English fiction and the English inn achieve their modern (thus reliably replicable) forms. I draw from a wide range of social and historical documents to show that while the coaching inn seems to have a certain analogical relationship to literary fiction, the relationship is in fact much more intricate and mutually formative. Both emergent institutions negotiate a modern relationship between inside and outside: what seems to have been outside the novel -- the inn -- turns up inside it to shape it from within, while fictional strategies inform the design and experience of inns. Writing on the emerging novel in The Rise of the Novel, Ian Watt asserts that "the delineation of domestic life and the private experience of characters who belong to it...go together --we get inside their minds as well as inside their houses" (175). Inn fictions, which feature characters inhabiting a surrogate home, complicate this equivalence between domestic and psychic interiors. I intervene in a flurry of more recent studies attempting to revise the novel's supposed claims to a unique language of interiority -- envisaged variously as the representation of consciousness, (re)organization of domestic life, definitions of personal privacy or identity, or assessments of the sexualized and gendered body -- to argue that novels featuring inns delineate distinctive insides and outsides that migrate, evolve, and interpenetrate. Inn fiction used the inn as a destabilizing structure that allowed the novel to dissect and reflect on its own processes. In bridging stasis and interiority with movement and exteriority, fictional representations of inns trace spatial changes in British landscape and architecture, interrogate the status and transmission of empirical knowledge, probe cultural assumptions of time and of social mobility, and reflect transformations in domestic structures. These functions, as my title suggests, all work out contemporary social and representational instabilities, especially as these bear on distinctions between interiors and exteriors.

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