Portrait of a Janeite


We heard from Jeanne Kiefer, Janeite and professional survey research consultant, who has put together a survey to get a statistical picture of the modern Janeite. She will present the findings at a breakout session at the JASNA AGM in Chicago this October.

My goal is to develop a fully rounded profile of current Jane Austen enthusiasts, so I’m eager to hear from as many Janeites as possible. Findings will be presented at the JASNA annual meeting (session title: Anatomy of a Janeite). What do Janeites really think about Jane, her works, her characters? Do they all fit the popular stereotype (tea-drinking librarians)?

The qualifications for taking the survey are having read the six novels and self-identifying as a Jane Austen fan. We took the survey, and there is no personally identifying information collected; one can, voluntarily, leave one’s e-mail address to participate in a further, more detailed survey. We would like to encourage all of our Gentle Readers who fit the criteria to take the survey.

As the Editrix is a frustrated sociologist, she is looking forward to the results. Though we always stress that the Janeite diaspora is not homogenous, such a survey will not only show a portrait of the “average” Janeite (if there is such a thing–we are thinking it will be more of a median/mean of Janeites) but also will display the wonderful diversity of our little world. We hope to be able to publish at least a link to the results here on the blog eventually.

20 thoughts on “Portrait of a Janeite

  1. Fine-eyed Elizabeth

    As a coffee- and champagne-drinking web application developer, computer programmer, and digital artist, I’m guessing the answer to that musical question will turn out to be “no” … !

    That was a fun survey, I hadn’t thought about all the characters in quite that way before. I’m sure the full results will be quite interesting!


  2. Maisy

    I had a difficult time choosing a heroine I liked the least. I’m sure that by the time they publish the results of the survey, I’ll have changed my mind!


  3. Baja Janeite

    The results should be surprising! So many of us love Jane Austen- but (from reading several months of posts) I realize how different we are all from one another!


  4. Karen

    Dammit, I drink tea and teach high school English. I also have an MLS. Should I stop being a fan because I contribute to the Janeite cliche? I do hate cats, though, and I cuss a fair amount. There, I hope that helps.


  5. Julie P.

    I’m a beer-drinking former librarian who does like tea but who hates cats. I also watch a lot of sports — and not just for the cute boys in tight pants; I actually care about the games themselves. On the other hand, however, I do wear glasses and am a middle-aged spinster.


  6. robin

    I love cats but all of mine have been eaten by the local wildlife. I refuse to keep a cat indoors. One minor objection I have to the survey – where it says “Sir/Lady Thomas Bertram.” Sir Thomas/Lady Bertram is better.


  7. Caroline

    Oh well, here goes… 😉

    I love tea AND coffee, so both Jane and Lizzy may serve me. I adore dogs, don’t like cats much. I draw like Emma and play music like Catherine Morland. I am not a good walker, although I enjoy the greenery, as Fanny and Anne do. I am no horsewoman, have absolutely no excuse for making myself a muslin gown (so I don’t have one), but my husband has both a red coat and a blue one. I don’t consider myself a great reader, although my friends all say the opposite.


  8. LeSpinster

    That was a fun survey, but I wish there’d been an option to choose our favorite bad girl as well as guy. I myself always think Mary Crawford is a little underappreciated. And that “worst parents” question was a doozy. I’m so interested in all the final results.


  9. Kira

    Very fun survey, I’m looking forward to the results. I did have a problem with the political question, but I guess that it’s just the effect of the fact that the survey is made by an American. Where I come from the Conservative and the Liberal party is in a joint (minority) government (and I don’t like either).


  10. Thank you dear Austenbloggers for your comments and suggestions! I’m The Jane Austen 2008 survey administrator and am SO pleased you took the time to participate and comment. Just wanted you to know that thus far 650 fans of Jane have responded and librarians are well in the minority! (Not quite so clear on cats and tea.) I will be sending the Austenblog tidbits to keep up interest in the survey while it remains open, so keep your eyes open. And please pass the URL (http://www.janeaustensurvey.org/) on to all your Jane friends… I’d like to hear from all sincere admirers.) I do apologize for the U.S.-centric elements — but out here in Arizona desert we have little access to Canadian/etc. terminology!


  11. Susan

    The worst parent and villian you love to hate made my linger on ny answers.

    I wonder if I’m not the prototype of a Janeite. I’m working on my Master’s in Engish and plan to make Jane the focus of my thesis. Ny first visit to Chawton was a life-changing experience. I love my dogs, cats and fish. I like things neat and tidy.


  12. Jessica Irene

    It would be really interesting to have more in depth views on “moral” leanings of her readers, and see if they align with what people think of a “typical” fan….disabuse the prudish sterotype…she touched on that with the feminist question, but I’d like to go deeper….I am also curious about the political question, were JA’s relatives Tories or Whigs??? I should know that, they certainly were in the military, though everyone was fighting Bonaparte then…though those these things change so much over time….also, one thing I think all Janeites have in common is a good sense of humor!!! Otherwise why bother, how would one appreciate a character like Sir Walter?


  13. Karenlee

    Oooh… Jane surveys. Love them! I must say, however, that I was very uncertain in rating the comic characters. It simply wasn’t clear to me what exactly she was trying to gauge when she asked which we “enjoy” most.

    “Enjoy”, in this context – especially when used in combination with “a favourite”, and “not a favourite” character is open to double-sided interpretation. Especially when we had just been asked which were our “favourite” and least-favourite (or “less interesting” as she helpfully suggested) heroines and heros.

    Did she want to know which comic characters we personally ‘liked’ the most (appealing) or which we found the best/most effectively written (interesting)? Because they’re not necessarily the same thing.
    Mrs Norris, for example. Few writers have ever created a character I detest so. Jane did an incredibly good job of making her an utterly nasty piece of work. She’s fascinating in her malice. But she doesn’t make me laugh. The same goes for John Thorpe and General Tilney – who are both egotistical bastards. I dislike them all too much to consider any a “favourite” – or even “so-so” favourite character. For that, they have to amuse me at least somewhat – as Isabella’s contradictions of speech and vain behaviour, and Mrs Bennets self-indulgent lamentations and machinations do. I only called a “favourite” those comic characters that I have a warm heart towards ( i.e. Admiral Crawford – how I love his astonished comments on the boat painting) – not necessarily those I thought the best deliniated. If that’s what we were supposed to be indicating, Mrs Norris would have ranked much higher than General Tilney.

    This is obviously a personality thing, and also very nit-picking, but if others had the same indecision about what exactly they were being asked, it might skewer the interpretation of what the results actually “mean” or indicate.


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