Abstract

Recent discussions of the automaton in eighteenth-century British culture have situated this figure in relation to shifting concepts of feminine identity. However, comparatively little attention has been spent on the automaton's relation to masculinity. In light of this, my essay considers parallels between automata and representations of men of feeling in the sentimental novels of Sterne, Smollett, and Mackenzie. Juxtaposing these novels with spectacles of automata like Cox's Museum reveal at least two interesting insights: (1) the man of feeling's automatically-reactive sensibility destabilizes eighteenth-century conceptual boundaries between humans and machines; and (2) in breaching these boundaries, men of feeling point to important shifts in the relationship between the mechanical and the virtuous as the century progresses.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 37-54
Launched on MUSE
2009-10-07
Open Access
No
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