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Public defence: Revolutions in feminist thought

Master Yasemin Nurcan Hacioglu at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages will defend her dissertation Thinking through Poems: Composition and Decision-Making in Late Eighteenth-Century Women’s Novels for the degree of philosophiae doctor (PhD).

Doktorgradskandidat Yasemin Nurcan Hacioglu, vegg med teksten "det humanistiske fakultet"

“Trash” fiction is often perceived to be complicit with repressive social structures. Already in the eighteenth century, as part of a hostile backlash to feminism in British politics, novels punish female transgression in sexual and social morality harshly. However, against the backdrop of the French Revolution, a number of female authors used the genre of the popular novel to create critical debate. Authors like Ann Radcliffe, Amelia Opie and others revealed that female agency is limited – and they also provide strategies for how to respond to patriarchy.

Composition - that is, arranging and structuring a literary narrative or work of art - enables heroines to imagine and make new choices. The thesis ‘Thinking through Poems: Composition and Decision-Making in Late Eighteenth-Century Women’s Novels’ uncovers how these novels model female agency. Using cognitive approaches, we can re-consider the poems not as finished ideas, but as spaces for “re-drafting” plot outcomes. To change her role in the plot, the composing heroine can drastically change her emotional and moral responses from expected social norms.

Not only did women’s popular fiction participate in debates on philosophy of mind in these novels, it also showed readers how to think differently themselves. The poems in these novels are a working space for the heroine’s mind, helping her to figure out how personal responses and imaginings are connected with and shape social expectations. Since the entanglement of feelings, gendered fictions and patriarchal structures is still relevant today, it is worth rediscovering these novels and the solutions they suggest.


Yasemin Nurcan Hacioglu successfully defended her dissertation on 3 September 2021.

Trial lecture

Time and place: 2 September, 5:15 pm, Sophus Bugges hus auditorium 1. The trial lecture will also be streamed live, a link to the livestream will be posted here.

Designated topic: "To what extent can the compositional practices of heroines in Romantic-period novels be mapped onto the work on Romantic-period women poets, particularly Charlotte Smith?"

Evaluation committee

Professor JoEllen Delucia, Central Michigan University (first opponent)

Dr Andrew McInnes, Reader in Romanticisms, Edge Hill University (second opponent)

Professor Tone Selboe, University of Oslo (committee administrator)

Chair of the defence

Head of research Anne Birgitte Rønning


Professor Karin Kukkonen, University of Oslo

Dr Jennifer Batt, University of Bristol


Published Aug. 13, 2021 1:31 PM - Last modified Sep. 13, 2021 1:20 PM