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ECF virtual issue, October 2018
Curator Julia H. Fawcett, University of California, Berkeley

Introduction by Julia H. Fawcett: click here.

In March 2018, the New York Times and the Observer of London revealed that Facebook and Cambridge Analytica had conspired in harvesting the “private” data of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge and had used that data to influence the American presidential election in 2016. Public outcry was swift and immediate. “Billions of dollars are being made at the expense of the health of our public sphere and our politics,” wrote Zeynep Tufekci in the New York Times on 19 March 2018, echoing the sentiments of many, a few days after the story broke (Tufekci, “Facebook’s Surveillance Machine,” New York Times, 19 March 2018, Yet it is not always clear what most offended the public in Facebook’s misuse of data. Was it the sense of having our privacy violated by companies who mined our data without our knowledge? And what definition of “privacy” does this sense of violation imply, given that the data in question was mined not from secret rooms or locked diaries but from social media? Was it that “billions of dollars [were] being made” from this violation? Or was it the damage to “the health of our public sphere and our politics”? And if the latter, what threat does this mining of private data pose, exactly, to “the health of our public sphere”?

This collection of articles from the ECF archive sheds light on the histories of such questions by examining notions of privacy as we have inherited them and as they shaped the literature and culture of the long eighteenth century. …

To read the full introduction by Julia H. Fawcett: click here.

©McMaster University, 2018.

ECF articles on Privacy are available at the free-to-read archive:

Publicity, Privacy, and the Power of Fiction in the Gunning Letters
by Thomas O. BEEBEE, ECF 20, no. 1 (2007): 61-88.

Privacy, Publicity, Pornography: Restif de la Bretonne’s Ingénue Saxancour, ou La Femme séparée
by Rori BLOOM, ECF 17, no. 2 (2005): 231-52.

Women’s Pockets and the Construction of Privacy in the Long Eighteenth Century
by Ariane FENNETAUX, ECF 20, no. 3 (2008): 307-34.

Fielding’s Novel of Atonement: Confessional Form in Amelia
by George E. HAGGERTY, ECF 8, no. 3 (1996): 383-400.

Representations of the Domestic Parlour in Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, 1747–48
by Karen LIPSEDGE, ECF 17, no. 3 (2005): 391-423.

Where the World May Ne’er Invade”: Green Retreats and Garden Theatre in La Princesse de Clèves, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, and Cecilia
by J. David MACEY Jr., ECF 12, no. 1 (1999): 391-423.

Privacy, Dissimulation, and Propriety: Frances Burney and Jane Austen
by Patricia MEYER SPACKS, ECF 12, no. 4 (2000): 515-31.

Forging a Romantic Identity: Herbert Croft’s Love and Madness and W.H. Ireland’s Shakespeare MS
by Robert MILES, ECF 17, no. 4 (2005): 599-627.

ECF articles on Project MUSE:

Female Favouritism, Orientalism, and the Bathing Closet in Memoirs of Count Grammont
by Danielle BOBKER, ECF 24, no. 1 (2011): 1-30.

Remembering Nature: Soliloquy as Aesthetic Form in Mansfield Park
by Lorraine CLARK, ECF 24, no. 2 (2012): 353-79.

Out of Egypt and into England: Secrecy and the State in Samuel Pratt’s Family Secrets
by James CRUISE, ECF 22, no. 2 (2010): 327-54.

Sarah Sophia Banks’s Private Theatricals: Ephemera, Sociability, and the Archiving of Fashionable Life
by Gillian RUSSELL, ECF 27, nos. 3-4 (2015): 535-55.

Further Reading:

Armstrong, Nancy. Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Berlant, Lauren and Michael Warner. “Sex in Public,” in Publics and Counterpublics. Brooklyn: Zone Books, 2005.

Chico, Tita. Designing Women: The Dressing Room in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2005.

Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Trans. Thomas Burger. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989.

Hunter, J. Paul. “The World as Stage and Closet,” in British Theater and Other Arts, 1660-1800, ed. Shirley Strum Kenny. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1983.

McKeon, Michael. The Secret History of Domesticity: Public, Private, and the Division of Knowledge. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Nussbaum, Felicity. The Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theater. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

Spacks, Patricia Meyer. Privacy: Concealing the Eighteenth-Century Self. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

See other ECF virtual issues:



Romancières des Lumières


Women’s Sexuality

©McMaster University, 2018. All articles published on the Eighteenth-Century Fiction website are protected by copyright held by Eighteenth-Century Fiction, a journal published by the Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University.