Thesis Title

Speculative Economic Ideology and Dramatic Strategies in Susanna Centlivre's the Basset Table and the Busy Body


Heather Hicks

Date of Graduation

Summer 2003


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

William Burling


The importance of the trading classes and their philosophies in eighteenth-century literature grew as financial insitutions like the Bank of England and the National Debt were established; specifically, J.G.A. Pocock tells us, because of the audiences' and writers' "conscious recognition of change in the economic and social foundations of politics and the political personality." As the social consciousness of the English commonality became indefinite, plebeian writers, like the early eighteenth-century dramatist Susanna Centlivre, rushed to characterize the virtuous English citizen according to speculative economic tenets in an effort to supersede the traditional aristocratic, landed ones. By utilizing strategies associated with the speculative economy--such as gambling, intrigue, formal education, and marriage--that "structurally and metaphorically replicate the process of deferral, continuation, and imaginative participation," Centlivre is able to situate, in her dramas The Basset Table and The Busy Body, traditionally disenfranchised characters, especially women, in socially elevated positions.

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Heather Hicks