Early Modern Studies
Turning the Hearts of Our Enemies 
 Literary Resources 1600-1800
The Game-Theoretical Design 
of Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews 
Overheads for a lecture 
in Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook's English 30, W97
Francis Steen
Department of English, UCSB
Monday, March 3, 1997
  1. Game-theoretical model: how to achieve cooperation
  2. Cheater detection: how to tell the truth behind appearances
  3. Commercial society versus the traditional agrarian society: resolving the conflict in a creative conceptual blend
  4. The destabilization and reaffirmation of gender codes
Events in Book I A. Cooperation

The Problem of Cooperation in Game Theory
Joseph (player B) 
A provides service and gets 
benefit (R)
A provides service but gets no benefit (S) 
B accepts service and pays 
cost (R)
B accepts service but pays no cost (T) 
A provides no service but gets 
benefit (T) 
A provides no service and gets no benefit (Z) 
B gets no service but pays 
cost (S) 
B gets no service and pays no cost (Z)
T = Temptation
R = Reward for cooperating
Z = Zero outcome; no cooperation
S = Sucker's payoff
T > R > Z > S
Logic keeps pushing people towards Z/Z: no trust, no cooperation. In this way, people avoid the worst outcome (S)--but fail to realize what would be better for all (R/R). Scoundrels keep trying for T, the best of all outcomes.

The problem of any community: how to realize the benefits of cooperation, or move from Z to R.

What makes it even more difficult is what is known as Banker's Paradox: the bank will lend you money only if you can prove you don't need it.

Joseph becomes victim to the Banker's Paradox: he's really in trouble and needs help badly--and this is precisely when people are the most reluctant to help him, because they're worried they'll be stuck with a Sucker's payoff


Parson Adams' Solution to the Cooperation Problem


B. Seeing through appearances, cheater detection

Events in Book II At this point, Joseph begins to assert himself:


C. Literature as a Social Reference Library

Developmental psychology

Evolutionary psychology The Historical Village Community The Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries The Birth of the Novel But Joseph Andrews does more than describe human nature, or give a stock set of rules of behavior. It provides--in the figure of Joseph, the hopeful hero of the emerging middle class--a way of working out a solution that did not exist before.


Events in Book III



Commercial society versus traditional agrarian society: resolving the conflict in a creative conceptual blend



D. Reaffirming Destabilized Gender Codes

Events in Book IV



Reaffirming Destabilized Gender Codes

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© 1997 Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles