An Enlightenment Utopia: The Network of Sociability in Corinne

This paper approaches Corinne, ou l’Italie through an inter-disciplinary lens, drawing on literary, historical, and digital methodologies. If Corinne is first and foremost a Romantic novel that foregrounds the love plot between Corinne and Oswald, it is as much a novel about the role of women in society, articulated through the figure of the femme de génie. The plot of the femme de génie finds its expression through the trope of sociability, which I analyze through a social network analysis of the characters in the narrative and a computational analysis of collocates. I argue that through the constellation of sociability in the novel and the national allegories that accompany it, Staël evokes an enduring partiality for an Enlightenment ideal of sociability that remains deeply connected with female emancipation. The lens of sociability thus allows for a re-articulation of the novel as a social critique of patriarchal society.