Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Catherine Labio

Second Advisor

John A. Stevenson

Third Advisor

Paul Youngquist


This thesis traces the rise of autonomous moral behavior (self-governance) in the context of increasingly private domestic settings in British novels from the middle to the end of the Georgian period. I argue that the representation of private domestic space that occurred by Austen's time was linked to the autonomous moral behavior represented in her novels, and to the developing standards of morality expressed in philosophical writings of the age. Sarah Scott and Jane Austen serve as the principal points of comparison; but David Hume's and Adam Smith's philosophical works, Samuel Richardson's epistolary novel The History of Sir Charles Grandison, Henry Mackenzie's sentimental novel The Man of Feeling, Ann Radcliffe's Gothic novel The Italian, and Elizabeth Hamilton's regional novel The Cottagers of Glenburnie also feature prominently.