These resources highlight new approaches to Austen’s work and novel interactions with her legacy. By inviting us to think about Austen’s work in different ways, these resources provide us with new perspectives. These resources include public intellectual work, podcasts, interviews, periodical essays, and more.
Bi-Austen-Tennial: A Celebration of the life and legacy of Jane Austen, 200 years after her death
“Bi-Austen-Tennial: A Celebration of the life and legacy of Jane Austen, 200 years after her death”
Authors: Annika Neklason, Rosa Incenio Smith, Megan Garber, Matt Thompson, Margaret Barthel, Sophie Gilbert, Marisa Johnson, Devoney Looser, Ted Scheinman, Patricia A. Matthew
Publication: The Atlantic, July 2017
Overview: This website is a collection of articles celebrating the bicentennial of Austen’s death. These articles cover everything from teaching Austen, cosplaying, queering Austen, and everything in between. The question of “why read Austen?” is central to these articles, as is the concept of “tell us about your….” experiences of Austen.
The Pride and Prejudice of Online Fan Culture
“The Pride and Prejudice of Online Fan Culture”
Author: Virginia Heffernan
Overview: In her article Heffernan describes the Janeite community as the first fandom subculture, one that prefigures the internet and other fandoms. Heffernan writes, that fandoms began with “Austen idolatry, around 1870. Star Trek: TOS didn’t air until 1966.” Janeites set in motion six practices that define moderate fan culture: 1) speaking of characters as though they are real people, 2) tolerating gentle teasing of their fandom but balking at criticism of the greater canon, 3) being meticulously detail oriented, 4) being secretive, 5) the fandom is considered slightly unwholesome, and 6) moving comfortably between fiction and reality. Janeites form a “self-digitized community,” a term coined by Sebastian Heath in 2011, to describe any group that “‘takes the time to organize information about itself or information that it cares about’ by making its artifacts legible, archivable, and searchable.” Heath posits that this digitalization is something he calls “dematerialization,” that the digitized community of Janeites has rendered itself symbolic and nonmaterial, thus outliving its bodily demise. In popular culture, Trekkies are considered the first fandom, but Heffernan challenges this through the Janeite community, stating that “Janeites, who are now in full force on the actual internet, stand for the stubborn persistence of the humanities online.”
Mansfield Park Pt. 3 with Dr. Tricia Matthew
“Mansfield Park Pt. 3 with Dr. Tricia Matthew”
Author: Bonnets at Dawn (Lauren Burke)
Overview: This episode of Bonnets at Dawn considers what it means to teach Mansfield Park as an abolitionist text, in addition to asking what it means to read this novel in a contemporary classroom. The episode begins with a history of the abolition movement in England before an interview with Dr. Tricia Matthew from Montclair University. Dr. Matthew describes what it means to read Regency literature as a person of color and asks how race impacts our reading. She identifies the trend of white women supporting abolition for themselves, and makes the connection to contemporary feminism and protest movements. She describes her experience of teaching Mansfield Park, and Austen, in the classroom recounting the experience of asking her students: what if Fanny Price was black? After the interview the hosts discuss their own responses to Manfield Park and Fanny Price, focusing on the idea of a moral center and responsibility for morality. Ending with a discussion of white female writers using the term slavery to discuss the condition of women this episode of Bonnets at Dawn asks listeners how we make connections between texts and contemporary events while moving beyond a fix-it culture.
Alt-Right Jane Austen
“Alt-Right Jane Austen”
Author: Nicole M. Wright
Publication: The Chronicle Review, 12 March 2017
Overview: Nicole M. Wright’s article is an account of her realization thatAusten has been claimed by the alt-right movement. Barred from one of Milo Yiannopolous’s speaking events, Wright describes watching the livestream of the event and being shocked to hear him quote (albeit erroneously) Jane Austen and subsequently wondering if other alt-right thinkers might be engaging with Austen. To answer her question, Wright conducted research that confirmed the alt-right is using Jane Austen in at least three different ways: 1) as a “symbol of sexual purity” ; 2) as a “standard-bearer of a vanished white traditional culture”; and 3) as an “exception that proves the rule of female inferiority.” Wright argues that the alt-right is using Austen to normalize the movement, avoiding Nazi Germany to locate better days goneby in “cozy England.” Wright concludes her article providing an incisive summation of how Austen’s work actually undermines misogyny and authoritarianism.
Jane Austen Has Alt-Right Fans? Heavens to Darcy!
“Jane Austen Has Alt-Right Fans? Heavens to Darcy!”
Author: Jennifer Schuessler
Publication: The New York Times, 20 March 2017
Overview: This article addresses some of the questions raised by Nicole M. Wright’s article about the emerging link she is finding between the alt-right movement and Jane Austen. Schuessler furthers the discussion Wright begins in her article by naming and quoting some of the sources Wright cited and interviews Austen scholars to show how Austen has been championed by both liberals and conservatives to support their own causes. . Ultimately, Schuessler’s article highlights how finding diversity in Austen can be challenging and how this often means college professors must wrestle with an uncomfortable truth.
Jane Austen claimed as hero by America's alt-right movement
“Jane Austen claimed as a hero by America’s ‘alt-right’ movement”
Author: Barney Henderson
Publication: The Telegraph, 21 March 2017
Overview: Henderson’s article describes Nicole M. Wright’s account of Austen and the American alt-right movement, paying specific attention to how the alt-right has turned Austen into a hero figure. Highlighting their support of Austen’s apparent traditionalism, Henderson describes the alt-right as a movement that honors the lack of diversity in Austen’s novel.