Special Issue "Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2022) | Viewed by 9837

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Sandie Byrne
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Kellogg College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2JA, UK
Interests: Jane Austen; language; poetry; twentieth-century poetry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special edition will offer new thoughts on and new insights to the life, work, and enduring importance of Jane Austen. It will consider the fiction in its literary and social but also its economic and political contexts, and the histories of its dissemination in material artefacts, in translation, and in adaptations. It brings together an international group of scholars representing the global reach of Austen’s writing and Austen criticism.  Building on and critiquing existing scholarship, the essays will revisit the mastery of language and form demonstrated in the mature novels, and will further the increasing interest in the teenage writing, fragments and letters. It will situate Austen’s styles and subjects within and without literary and aesthetic movements of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and trace her influence into the twentieth and twenty-first. The diverse interests and approaches of the contributors: biographical, economic, feminist, historical, linguistic, materialist, receptionist, theoretical, and other, will produce a diverse collection unified by the question of what twenty-first-century readings of Austen are and will be.

Dr. Sandie Byrne
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Jane Austen
  • eighteenth century
  • nineteenth century
  • feminism
  • novel
  • fiction

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

Article
‘& Not the Least Wit’: Jane Austen’s Use of ‘Wit’
Humanities 2022, 11(6), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11060132 - 26 Oct 2022
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Abstract
Jane Austen is celebrated for her wit and wittiness. She famously defended novels in Northanger Abbey, for example, on the basis that they display ‘the liveliest effusions of wit’. Critics have long been occupied with detailing the implications of Austen’s wit, but [...] Read more.
Jane Austen is celebrated for her wit and wittiness. She famously defended novels in Northanger Abbey, for example, on the basis that they display ‘the liveliest effusions of wit’. Critics have long been occupied with detailing the implications of Austen’s wit, but without due attention to Austen’s own explicit deployment of the word within her writing. Offering a re-evaluation of Austen’s use of ‘wit’, this article provides a much-needed examination of how the term is implemented by Austen in her fiction (from her juvenilia, and through her six major novels), contextualises wit’s meaning through its seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century senses, and reveals that ‘wit’ did not necessarily have the positive connotations often presumed in modern suppositions. It transpires that, seemingly paradoxically, Austen routinely adopts the label ‘wit’ ironically to expose an absence of true wit, whilst concurrently avoiding the application of the word in moments displaying true wit. This article argues for the need to understand the crucial distinction between wit and true wit in Austen’s fiction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
The Work of a Moment: When Jane Austen Stops Time
Humanities 2022, 11(6), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11060130 - 22 Oct 2022
Viewed by 256
Abstract
This essay examines Jane Austen’s occasional but potent attention to singular moments that seem to stand outside of the usual flow of time. Signaled by her use of phrases such as ‘the work of a moment’ or ‘the work of an instant’, these [...] Read more.
This essay examines Jane Austen’s occasional but potent attention to singular moments that seem to stand outside of the usual flow of time. Signaled by her use of phrases such as ‘the work of a moment’ or ‘the work of an instant’, these momentous moments gain resonance when studied against the backdrop of Austen’s nuanced attention to temporal representation in narrative and to the temporal dimensions of human experience. The essay argues that Austen’s momentous moments ultimately function as a crucial dimension of what Amit Yahav in Feeling Time designates the ‘sensibility chronotope’, a perspective that asserts primacy over chronometry and chronology. Attending to these moments in the fiction further enables us to assess Austen’s contribution to what would later become a distinctive feature of the nineteenth-century realist novel, the preoccupation with roads not taken and ‘lives unled’, as Andrew Miller argues in On Not Being Someone Else: Tales of Our Unled Lives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
A Conspiracy with Twelve-Year-Old Jane Austen: Juliet McMaster’s Illustrations for ‘The Beautifull Cassandra’
Humanities 2022, 11(5), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11050119 - 14 Sep 2022
Viewed by 522
Abstract
This article discusses a picture book, The Beautifull [sic] Cassandra, that was published by Juvenilia Press in 2021. The text was written by Jane Austen, most probably in 1788, and was edited and illustrated by Juliet McMaster some 200 years [...] Read more.
This article discusses a picture book, The Beautifull [sic] Cassandra, that was published by Juvenilia Press in 2021. The text was written by Jane Austen, most probably in 1788, and was edited and illustrated by Juliet McMaster some 200 years later. My key questions are: What are the characteristics of Austen’s text? What are the strategies that McMaster uses to illustrate the text? How do we evaluate the picture book as a whole? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
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Article
‘OMG JANE AUSTEN’: Austen and Memes in the Post-#MeToo Era
Humanities 2022, 11(5), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11050112 - 02 Sep 2022
Viewed by 499
Abstract
This essay will focus on the central position that Jane Austen holds in the growing culture of memes in the Social Web and examine how these present-day cameo artefacts are both transforming the way Austen is perceived and appropriated today, and exploiting her [...] Read more.
This essay will focus on the central position that Jane Austen holds in the growing culture of memes in the Social Web and examine how these present-day cameo artefacts are both transforming the way Austen is perceived and appropriated today, and exploiting her work as a source of inspiration for contemporary debates on genre, gender, and sexuality. It will first trace the origins of memes, these cultural replicators that discharge mini portions of irony, in Northanger Abbey—a novel depending on the reader’s active participation—and argue that the literary landscape of the 1790s popular culture (as reflected in Austen) is a foreshadowing of post-millennial memes. Furthermore, through a close reading of a plethora of memes based on stills from screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, the essay will study how Austen’s renowned Mr. Darcy—filtered through the famous impersonations by Collin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen—has activated new re-imaginings of masculinity and heterosexuality in the post-#MeToo epoch. As some memes suggest, Mr. Darcy, a reformed hero who has learned how to match hegemony with sensibility, is the perfect antidote to the anathema of toxic masculinity and the perfect catch to the crowds of female Janeites. At the same time, however, a large number of memes indicate that, to an expanding male fandom that steers away from a nostalgic reactionary return to Austen, Mr. Darcy is celebrated for the queer potential of his conflicting features. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
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Article
‘A Great Deal of Noise’: Jane Austen’s Disruptive Children and the Culture of Conversation
Humanities 2022, 11(5), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11050104 - 25 Aug 2022
Viewed by 620
Abstract
Children occupy a peripheral position in the novels of Jane Austen, with the result that they have received little critical attention. This article proposes that, despite their marginal status, children play a significant role in Austen’s work as agents of disruption, whose presence [...] Read more.
Children occupy a peripheral position in the novels of Jane Austen, with the result that they have received little critical attention. This article proposes that, despite their marginal status, children play a significant role in Austen’s work as agents of disruption, whose presence is frequently signified by the noise they make. It is through their interventions that Austen dramatizes a wider crisis in the capacity of conversation to improve, educate, and forge meaningful connections between individuals. The significance of Austen’s representations of children can be grasped more fully by reading Austen in relation to her contemporaries, namely Maria Edgeworth and Hannah More. While these authors view children as the embodiment of Enlightenment hopes and Revolutionary fears, Austen avoids such polemical representations. Rather than rational actors participating within a culture of improving conversation, Austen’s children are defined by their inarticulate voices and disruptive tendencies. Ultimately, however, it is through their inarticulacy that Austen expresses her doubts about the status of conversation as a site of enlightened exchange. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
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Article
The Challenges of Translating Jane Austen’s Irony: Samples from 150 Years of Norwegian Versions of the Novels
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040099 - 10 Aug 2022
Viewed by 590
Abstract
Irony is often perceived to be an inherent quality of Jane Austen’s narrative voice and attitude, but is it translatable? It has been argued that Austen should ‘stay at home’, since foreign versions tend to alter her novels in various ways. However, her [...] Read more.
Irony is often perceived to be an inherent quality of Jane Austen’s narrative voice and attitude, but is it translatable? It has been argued that Austen should ‘stay at home’, since foreign versions tend to alter her novels in various ways. However, her novels are nevertheless translated into more languages, giving her a more global presence than ever before. What kind of Austen is received in these versions? Does she still have a sharp eye for human peculiarities and wry comments on the vagaries of romance? The study of Austen in translation is still in its early phase, with most languages yet to be investigated. This article will focus on Norwegian translations between 1871 and the present time. They include serials for newspapers and journals, paperbacks for the popular market, as well as handsome classic author editions. The challenge of understanding and transmitting Austen’s irony cuts across such genres and channels of publication and is always a prominent issue when studying them. In this article, I will choose some examples of narrative irony from the novels and compare them to several translated versions (in back-translation). They serve as illustrations of what is at stake, but also, implicitly, as demonstrations of Austen’s own peculiar voice and authorial qualities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
From Nobody to Somebody: Romantic Epistemology in Jane Austen’s Persuasion
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040093 - 23 Jul 2022
Viewed by 722
Abstract
The aim of this article is to substantiate the thesis that together with the development of the plot of Persuasion, the cognitive power of the principal heroine expands, and she becomes a highly sensitive reader of human minds. This thesis is supported [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to substantiate the thesis that together with the development of the plot of Persuasion, the cognitive power of the principal heroine expands, and she becomes a highly sensitive reader of human minds. This thesis is supported by references to the new ‘Romantic’ psychology, emphasizing the close links between the innate aspects of the mind and the body. Psychological insight demonstrates the fragmentation of Anne Elliot’s mind, the role of the unconscious, and the division between the interior and the exterior. There is also analysis of the significance of Anne’s frequent change of transitory lodgings, along with interpretation of the narrative strategy, especially free indirect speech and mediated speech (the function of eavesdropping) and the important role of body language. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
The Reception of Jane Austen in Early Modern China: A Canonical Perspective
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040090 - 19 Jul 2022
Viewed by 526
Abstract
In China, Jane Austen has undergone an amazing metamorphosis from an obscure foreign writer disregarded or disapproved of for a long period to a great novelist highly acclaimed and fully acknowledged. Only recent years have seen the publication of a few scholarly articles [...] Read more.
In China, Jane Austen has undergone an amazing metamorphosis from an obscure foreign writer disregarded or disapproved of for a long period to a great novelist highly acclaimed and fully acknowledged. Only recent years have seen the publication of a few scholarly articles on the reception trajectories of Austen in the Chinese academic world. This article revisits the issue, particularly the reception of Austen in early modern China from a canonical perspective. During the first major wave of literary translation, Austen was absent in the translation projects of dominant male translators, especially in Lin Shu’s choice. It was not because of their gender discrimination as generally considered, but because of their lack of canon consciousness. The literary light of Austen, too bright and too sparkling to ignore, was finally shed upon the Chinese land, but her canonical place was not instantly recognized. The wartime translators’ efforts to render Pride and Prejudice into Chinese reflect the difficulty in the making of a canonical Austen under very different historical circumstances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
Representing Bodies and Bathing Machines: Jane Austen’s Sanditon and Andrew Davies’s 2019 ITV Adaptation
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040081 - 28 Jun 2022
Viewed by 656
Abstract
Jane Austen’s final novel fragment Sanditon has inspired continuations of many kinds from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. The most recent literary afterlife it has generated is the 2019 British adaptation for ITV, created by Andrew Davies, and with a screenplay by Davies, Justin [...] Read more.
Jane Austen’s final novel fragment Sanditon has inspired continuations of many kinds from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. The most recent literary afterlife it has generated is the 2019 British adaptation for ITV, created by Andrew Davies, and with a screenplay by Davies, Justin Young and Andrea Gibb. This eight-part adaptation attempts to recreate Austen’s Regency world but reimagines and develops Sanditon through the lens of twenty-first century sexual sensibilities. Most notably, depictions of male nudity and sex acts demonstrate the adaptation’s engagement with contemporary sexual politics. Scenes offering salacious views of naked men sea-bathing counter the historical tradition of the female nude offered up for male gaze; the female body, in contrast, remains fully clothed in response to the contemporary Me-Too context. Furthermore, the inclusion of sex scenes, a character with a backstory of sexual abuse, a relationship featuring coercive control, and an ending denying the heroine her man reflects the zeitgeist. However, the disappointing British viewing figures for Sanditon suggest that sex does not always sell, particularly when it comes to creating a successful twenty-first century Austen adaptation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
Did We Need Another Emma? The Anxiety of Influence in the Bollywood Adaptation of Emma
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040080 - 28 Jun 2022
Viewed by 491
Abstract
The multiple screen adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels, and in particular, those of Emma (1815–1816), willy-nilly direct audience attention to the problematic continuities between the original novel and Rajshri Ojha’s twenty-first century Bollywood adaptation, Aisha (2010). This essay addresses the issue of the [...] Read more.
The multiple screen adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels, and in particular, those of Emma (1815–1816), willy-nilly direct audience attention to the problematic continuities between the original novel and Rajshri Ojha’s twenty-first century Bollywood adaptation, Aisha (2010). This essay addresses the issue of the competing influence of Austen and the global cinematic adaptations that precede this Hindi adaptation, even as it assesses the film for its engagement with the adaptation of Austenian social concerns to the particularities of the contemporary upper-middle-class urban existence in India. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
What Happened to the ‘Truth Universally Acknowledged’? Translation as Reception of Jane Austen in France
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040077 - 23 Jun 2022
Viewed by 488
Abstract
There are now, in 2022, sixteen French translations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The incipit includes one of the most famous statements in the English language, as well as a modal auxiliary, the rendering of which constitutes a minor challenge for [...] Read more.
There are now, in 2022, sixteen French translations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The incipit includes one of the most famous statements in the English language, as well as a modal auxiliary, the rendering of which constitutes a minor challenge for any translator. This essay will analyse all translations of the incipit, relating translation choices to historical circumstances, the contemporary status of British literature and attitudes to the translation of fiction as well as to the state of the book market. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
Jane Austen in Mid-Victorian Periodicals
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040076 - 22 Jun 2022
Viewed by 521
Abstract
Victorian periodicals were an important part of the literary marketplace that shaped Jane Austen’s critical reception during the nineteenth century. Moreover, throughout the century, periodical authors used the critical conversation around Austen to create a space for themselves and their work in the [...] Read more.
Victorian periodicals were an important part of the literary marketplace that shaped Jane Austen’s critical reception during the nineteenth century. Moreover, throughout the century, periodical authors used the critical conversation around Austen to create a space for themselves and their work in the press by beginning to shape a critical canon, as well as by raising and responding to questions about the nature of Victorian women’s authorship. Focusing on articles published during the mid-Victorian period (1852–1868), prior to the publication of James Edward Austen-Leigh’s 1870 A Memoir of Jane Austen, this essay considers Austen’s presence in periodical writing in the middle of the nineteenth century and explores how writers used both Austen herself and her writings to accomplish their own authorial ends. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
Pride and Prejudice in Brazil’s Popular Culture: A Photonovel and a Soap Opera
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040075 - 21 Jun 2022
Viewed by 635
Abstract
Soap operas are an integral part of Brazilian popular culture and the daily lives of Brazil’s people. In 2018, the biggest TV channel in the country, Globo, broadcast a six-month-long soap opera called ‘Pride and Passion’, centered on the story of the Benedito [...] Read more.
Soap operas are an integral part of Brazilian popular culture and the daily lives of Brazil’s people. In 2018, the biggest TV channel in the country, Globo, broadcast a six-month-long soap opera called ‘Pride and Passion’, centered on the story of the Benedito family and their five unmarried daughters, who live in the small village of ‘Vale do Café’ (‘Coffee Valley’) around the 1910s, surrounded by the rural aristocracy and its coffee plantations. The obvious inspiration is Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and its choice is an indication of Austen’s growing popularity outside English-speaking countries. This adaptation, which incorporates characters from her other novels as well, is the quintessential amalgamation of cultures and media, combining a canonical author of the English language with a Brazilian TV genre commonly seen as ‘lowbrow’. It was not, however, Austen’s first incursion in Brazil’s popular culture. During the 1960s and 1970s, photonovels were an extremely popular genre there, usually translated into Portuguese from Italian productions, as was the case of the 1965 Pride and Prejudice photonovel, sold as a literary supplement to a widely circulated women’s magazine. This essay analyses both cases of different, although connected, adaptations of Austen, arguing that Austen’s presence in Brazil was always mediated by the expectations and appropriation of new media, while showing that the dialogue with popular culture can only enhance our understanding of the ‘global Austen’ phenomenon and her appeal across time and cultures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
Article
Jane Austen: The Musician as Author
Humanities 2022, 11(3), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11030073 - 14 Jun 2022
Viewed by 661
Abstract
Jane Austen was a practising musician, and my intention in this paper is to investigate the significance of that fact for her writing practice. Beginning with the comparison between Elizabeth and Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, I will consider contemporary attitudes [...] Read more.
Jane Austen was a practising musician, and my intention in this paper is to investigate the significance of that fact for her writing practice. Beginning with the comparison between Elizabeth and Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, I will consider contemporary attitudes to virtuosity and aesthetics in an attempt to understand the implications in Austen’s fiction of the distinction between ‘playing well’ and ‘being listened to with pleasure’. My recently completed project of cataloguing in detail each piece of playable music in the Austen Family Music Books facilitates the study of Austen’s personal musical taste in the context of her extended family and, more broadly, of English musical culture in the late Georgian era. I attempt to bring together Austen the musician with Austen the writer, both in her knowledge of the musical repertoire of the time and the language of music more generally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jane Austen: Work, Life, Legacy)
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