Female Homosocial Desire in Sarah Fielding’s The Governess, or Little Female Academy


  • Nilgün Müftüoğlu Karadeniz Technical University
  • Mustafa Zeki Çıraklı Karadeniz Technical University


This paper attempts to investigate the same-sex relationships of female characters in Sarah Fielding’s The Governess, or Little Female Academy(1749) as represented in a controlled homosocial setting where homosocial desire is satisfied. This study refers to the concept of “homosocial desire” offered earlier by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick to analyse the female characters within the scope of homosociality and explores how “homosocial desire” is exemplified by the patterns of behaviour and discourses that female characters represented through a condensed milieu of subjective manifestations as well as instructed morals. The study argues that female homosocial desire is the primary motive in the acts, behaviors and decisions of female characters searching for a private medium in which they achieve transparent communication with mutual affection by constituting a community of intimacy between the same sexes. The study concludes that released, aroused, gratified or satisfied homosocial desire can be a power of transformation from chaos to harmony, which indicates the healing nature of fulfilled homosocial desire.


Aristophanes, Lysistrata. The Eserver Drama Collection, Retrieved from http://drama.eserver.org/plays/ classical/ aristophanes/lysistrata.txt. Dec. 2016.
Barker-Benfield, G.J. (1992), The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth Century Britain, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
Blosser, Philip and Marshell Carl Bradley, (Eds.) 1997, Friendship: Philosophic Reflections on a Perennial Concern, University Press of America: United States of America.
Bree, Linda (1996), Sarah Fielding, Twayne Publishers: New York.
Classen, Albert (2010), Introduction, Albert Classen and Marilyn Sandidge (Eds.), Friendship in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age, (pp. 1-184), De Guyter: Berlin.
Coates, Jennifer (1996), Women Talk, Blackwell Publishers: Oxford.
Defoe, Daniel (1994), Moll Flanders, Penguin Books Ltd.: London.
Edwards, Jason (2009), Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Routledge: London.
Faderman, Lilian (1981), Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present, William Morrow and Company, Inc.: New York.
Fielding, Henry (2012), The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Penguin English Library: London.
Fielding, Sarah (1994), The Adventures of David Simple, 1969. Oxford University Press: United Kingdom.
_____________ (2002), The History of the Countess of Dellwyn, Blackmask Online.
_____________ (2002), The Governess, or, Little Female Academy [1749], Tradition Classics: Hamburg.
Fleming, Patrick C. (2013), The Rise of the Moral Tale: Children’s Literature, the Novel and The Governess, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 46 (4), 463-477.
Foucault, Michel (no date), Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Vintage Books: New York.
Freud, Sigmund. “The Libido’s Attachment to Objects”, Retrieved from paws.wcu.edu/pcoyle /TheoryFreud.pdf
Hartmann, Heidi (1997), The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a More Progressive Union, In Linda Nicholson (Ed.), The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory, (pp. 97-122), Routledge: New York.
Halperin, David M. (1997), Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography, Oxford University Press: USA.
Heath, Stephen (1992), Flaubert: Madame Bovary, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Herndl, Daniel Price (1997), Desire, In Robyn R. Warhol & Diane Price Herndl (Eds.), Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism, , Rutgers University Press: New Jersey.
Hill, B. (2013), Eighteenth-Century Women: An Anthology, Routledge: Oxon.
Hunter, J. Paul (1990), Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction, W.W. Norton & Company: New York.
Kelly, Mark G. E. (2009), The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault, Routledge: London.
________________ (2013), Foucault’s History of Sexuality: The Will to Knowledge, Vol.1, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh.
Lacan, J. (2006), Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English, (Trans. Bruce Fink), W.W. Norton & Company: New York; London.
________ (2001), Ecrits: A Selection, (Trans. Alan Sheridan), Routledge: New York; London.
Lipking, L. & Monk, S. H. (2000), The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, In M. H. Abrams & Stephen Greenbalt (Eds.), The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume 1, 7th ed., W.W. Norton Company: United States of America.
Lipman-Blumen, Jean (1976), Toward a Homosocial Theory of Sex Roles: An explanation of the Sex Segregation of Social Institutions, Signs, 1(3), 15-31.
O’Connor, Pat (1992), Friendships between Women: A Critical Review, Harvester Wheatsheaf: Hertfordshire.
Percy, Carol (2009), “Learning and Virtue: English Grammar and the Eighteenth Century Girls’ School”, In Mary Hilton & Jill Shefrin (Eds.), Educating the Child in Enlightenment Britain: Beliefs, Cultures, Practices, Ashgate Publishing: England.
Plato (1994), Symposium, (Trans. Robin Waterfield), Oxford University Press: Oxford.
Porter, Roy and Roberts, Marie Mulvey (Eds.) (1996), Pleasure in the Eighteenth Century, New York University Press: New York.
Porter, Roy (1990), English Society in the Eighteenth Century, Penguin Books: London.
__________ (1994), London: A Social History, Hamish Hamilton: London.
Roulston, Chris (2010), Narrating Marriage in Eighteenth-Century England and France, Ashgate Publishing: England.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky (1985), Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, Columbia University Press: New York.
Taylor, E. Derek (2009), Reason and Religion in Clarissa: Samuel Richardson and ‘The Famous Mr. Norris, of Bemerton’, Ashgate Publishing Limited: England.
Todd, Janet (1980), Women’s Friendship in Literature, Columbia University Press: New York.
URL, “Jasmine Flower Meaning” (n.d.), http://flowermeaning.com/jasmine-flower-meaning/ (20.03.2017)
URL, “What is the Meaning of Honeysuckle Flower?” (n.d.), https://www.ehow.com/facts_6754712_meaning-honeysuckle-flower_.html (20.03.2017)
Verini, Alexandra (2016), Medieval Models of Female Friendship in Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies and Margery Kempe’s The Book of Margery Kempe, Feminist Studies, 42(2), 365-391.




How to Cite

Müftüoğlu, N., & Çıraklı, M. Z. (2019). Female Homosocial Desire in Sarah Fielding’s The Governess, or Little Female Academy. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 7(12), 78–90. Retrieved from https://nalans.com/index.php/nalans/article/view/152