Date of Graduation

Spring 2015


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Shannon Wooden


affect theory, trauma theory, fear, shame, mimicry, deception, glamour, commodities, social positioning

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


This thesis applies affect theory to Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, offering readers a new perspective on how existential experiences and their relationship to glamour and commodities contribute to Moll's sense of fear and shame and the constant deterritorialization and reterritorialization of her identity. An examination of critical approaches and how they relate to affect theory provides a foundation for understanding how affects shape Moll's identity. An explanation of the fundamental concepts of affect theory and affect's relationship to trauma theory provides the framework for analysis. This thesis then turns to an application of affect theory. Beginning with an explanation of how glamour is an affective trigger, this section analyzes how Moll's search for the trappings of glamour implicates her in both mimicry and deception. Building on these ideas, the next section analyzes how Moll monetizes men in order to gain a respectable social position, as well as analyzes how affects and affect triggers function in her relationships and interactions with men and society. This thesis concludes that Moll's experiences with men produce affective triggers that result in negative affects, which function as a threat to Moll's sense of self and belonging. Furthermore, her acknowledgement of these affects coupled with related memories elicits negative emotions that force her pre-personal to continuously deterritorialize and reterritorialize.


© Rachel Danielle Lanning

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