Author Biography

Susan Carlile is Professor of English at California State University, Long Beach. She edited _Masters of the Marketplace: British Women Novelists of the 1750s_ (Lehigh University Press, 2010) and co-edited Charlotte Lennox’s 1758 novel _Henrietta_ (with Ruth Perry, University Press of Kentucky, 2008). She has published essays and reviews on Anna Letitia Barbauld, Frances Burney, Samuel Johnson, Charlotte Lennox, and Delarivier Manley. Her critical biography of Charlotte Lennox will appear in 2017 with University of Toronto Press.


This essay offers two methods that will help students resist the temptation to judge eighteenth-century novels by twenty-first-century standards. These methods prompt students to parse the question of whether female protagonists in novels—in this case, Daniel Defoe’s Roxana (1724), Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas (1759), and Charlotte Lennox’s Sophia (1762)—are portrayed as perfect models or as complex humans. The first method asks them to engage with definitions of the term “heroine,” and the second method uses word clouds to extend their thinking about the complexity of embodying a mid-eighteenth-century female identity.


teaching, pedadogy, female protagonists, women, eighteent-century novel, methods for teaching, heroine, word clouds, female identify, embodying