Emily Rupp

Date of Award

Summer 8-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Melanie Holm

Second Advisor

Tanya Heflin

Third Advisor

Michael T. Williamson


In my thesis, I assert how the women in Jane Austen’s novels desire that which is not expected of them and how that desire enables a condition of narrative ignorance by subverting those novelistic and societal understandings of female desire within the Regency era. My research focuses upon the issues of choice, female heterosexual apathy – a disinterest or lack of desire shown towards men – and the misunderstandings that the narrators have of their heroines that appear as patterns throughout Austen’s novels. These heroines have desires that are displaced from the realm of the narrator, which reflects the invisibility of female-female desire.

The basis of my research is close readings of Austen’s novels, but to supplement my discussion about the misunderstanding of female desire, historical gender and sexuality theory provides possibilities of how female-female desire and heterosexual apathy could have manifested in late eighteenth-century England.