- This event has passed.
TALK: Sophie Gee, “Communion, Communication, Sacrifice in the Eighteenth-Century Novel”
November 10, 2016 @ 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Board Room, Mosher Alumni Hall
This is a paper about the evolving meaning of the sacrament of the Eucharist in the 18th century and its significance for understanding identificatory practices in novels. The Eucharist commemorates Christ’s human sacrifice, a loss that enables the salvation of humanity. My paper takes one model of miraculous identification as a template for interpreting another— that is, I’m using the Eucharist as a way to investigate the claim novels make to represent, and even to enable, various forms of identification between individual subjects. I’m interested both in the Calvinist interpretation of the sacrament, which constructs it as a ritual memorializing sacrifice or radical loss in order to enable identification between God and man through the intermediate figure of the passionate, suffering human Christ. And I’m also interested in the more Socinian model of Eucharist as a ritual that diminishes and even overlooks Christ’s passion and instead pays attention to identification without suffering as a miraculous event per se, capable of transforming human into divine. Through a reading of a late scene Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, I explore sacrificial resonances in scenes of fictional identification, substitution, and the imagining of others’ suffering. I note that identification with and among fictional characters, like the sacramental ritual, is a necessarily transient or impermanent transaction.