Revisiting Richardson's Pamela as a site of “spatial formalism,” this essay maintains that the notion of the domestic interior as a setting conducive to psychological interiority requires further materialist analysis. It argues that the interiority of Pamela hinges less on characters' emotions than on its ability to move between different spatial interiors, from the oft-cited interiors of domestic architecture to the interiors of spaces that initially register as objects, such as women's detachable pockets as well as books and letters themselves. Ultimately, Pamela lays claim to her selfhood through effecting a dynamic whereby her movable possessions—her letters, her pockets in particular—become spatial territories of the self that challenge the authority of land ownership conferred to her social superiors. She effects, in other words, a shift in social relations as defined by property as well as by marriage through her ability to transform the interiority afforded by her everyday possessions into a movable estate of the self.
Detachable Pockets and Letter Folds: Spatial Formalism and the Portable Interiors of the Eighteenth-Century Novel
julie park is associate professor for research in English at Vassar College and the author of The Self and It (2010). Her current book project, “My Dark Room,” considers how novelistic interiority emerged through the experience and design of built environments in eighteenth-century England.
Julie Park; Detachable Pockets and Letter Folds: Spatial Formalism and the Portable Interiors of the Eighteenth-Century Novel. Novel 1 May 2017; 50 (1): 8–34. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-3854251
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