The Epistemology of the Gaze in Popular Discourse: A Re-Vision


A review of Daryl Ogden’s book, The Language of the Eyes: Science, Sexuality, and Female Vision in English Literature and Culture, 1690–1927 (SUNY, 2005), which sets out to recover a gaze that has been, to date, largely ahistoricized by psychological and evolutionary theories of surveillance and desire. Ogden’s argument rests on two premises: that feminist theorists have not fully acknowledged the extent to which Freud and Freudian theory gendered the epistemology of vision and, more importantly, that this gendering of vision was actually shaped by eighteenth-century discourse. Literary works examined include those by Catherine Trotter, Samuel Richardson, Eliza Haywood, Maria Edgeworth, Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, Olive Schreiner, Thomas Hardy, and Virginia Woolf.