“The process by which academic critics deprecate Austenian admirers outside the academy is very similar to the way…trekkies, fans, and mass media enthusiasts are derided and marginalized by dominant cultural institutions bent on legitimizing their own objects and protocols of expertise.” – Claudia L. Johnson, “Austen cults and cultures,” The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen

Burke Austen Scholar-in-Residence Juliette Wells Lecture Available as Podcast


Juliette Wells, the Goucher College 2009-2010 Burke Jane Austen Scholar-in-Residence, gave a public lecture in February that is now available as a podcast. The talk, titled “For the Love of Jane Austen,” is about why ordinary readers, that is, non-academics, read Jane Austen, and is quite enjoyable; also appropriate, as Alberta Burke, the Goucher alumna who donated the Austen collection to Goucher’s library, was an enthusiastic, but non-professional, Janeite. The podcast can be downloaded for free from Goucher’s website. It’s not quite an hour long and definitely worth your time.



Ouch. This is an ugly one. Well-known Jane Austen scholar Kathryn Sutherland has accused biographer Claire Harman, author of the upcoming Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (Laurel Ann previewed it on Austenprose), of copying ideas from Professor Sutherland’s more scholarly take on a similar subject, Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood, published in 2006.

Sutherland uncovered evidence that the punctuation inserted on Austen’s manuscripts shows how she was turned into a more acceptable and organised kind of creative genius. Her novels serve today as the basis of lavish costume dramas and Bollywood screenplays.

“My book was hailed as ground-breaking, but not many people outside the circle of Austen scholars have seen it,” said Sutherland. “I had used three informal family biographies of Jane written by her nieces which were then ignored in the version of her life that was put out to the world by her nephew and publishers.”

In Sutherland’s view, Harman’s book will now end her own hopes of a wider readership: “The commercial and academic worlds are obviously different, but there is a cross-over. In academia, you cite every source to prove your scholarship, while in a commercial book, you don’t.” She claims that readers who follow up Harman’s footnotes and read her book will see the similarities.

Another article covers much the same ground. Thanks to Alert Janeites Maria L. and Lisa for the links.

Proof that there really CAN be too many adaptations of Jane Austen's novels


An article in today’s Times reports that the movie rights to P&P and Zombies are expected to be sold this week.

Hollywood studios are bidding to turn a radical reworking of Austen’s most popular book, now called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a parody to be published in April, into a blockbuster movie.

Desperate for new ideas, studio chiefs hope “P&P&Z” will mark the bloody birth of a feral offspring of classic British literature: “monster-lit”.

They can sell rights. Whether it actually gets made, of course, remains to be seen. Has everyone already forgotten the whining about how expensive it is to make period films? Add zombie makeup to it and it gets really pricey!

This weekend Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of P&P&Z who is based in Los Angeles, revealed how he and an editor at Quirk Books, an independent publisher, developed a diagram tracing connections between seminal period novels to cult movie genres, including robots, vampires and aliens.

“It quickly became obvious that Jane [Austen] had laid down the blueprint for a zombie novel,” said Grahame-Smith, a television comedy writer. “Why else in the original should a regiment arrive on Lizzie Bennet’s doorstep when they should have been off fighting Napoleon? It was to protect the family from an invasion of brain-eaters, obviously.”

At the risk of being called a Period Pedant (who are we kidding; we ARE a Period Pedant), the Blankshires were a militia regiment, by definition a domestic unit; therefore, England was exactly where they were supposed to be. The regular army (which Wickham joins at the end of the novel) were the ones who would go off fighting the French.

Wow, a Spoilsport Award? For us? Gee, thanks!

From then on it was easy to imagine Bennet and her four sisters as zombie slayers, trained since childhood in the deadly arts of Chinese kung fu, and Fitzwilliam Darcy as a promoter of the socially superior ninja skills of Japan.

Well, at least there are ninjas.

Other talent agencies are pitching their own slate of monster-lit titles. They include a version of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, where Catherine, the deceased heroine, returns as a Japanese-style ghost not only to haunt but also to terrorise Heathcliff.

But isn’t that how it…actually…goes…oh, never mind.

Gentle Readers, we believe we are witnesses to history: the shark being jumped on Jane Austen. Maybe now they’ll leave us alone, do you think? But no; like a, well, zombie, the forces of Popular Culture will rise from an uneasy grave and eat our brains with a titanium spork. Pray regard the coda to this article.

THE identity of a mystery suitor who wooed Jane Austen during a holiday romance is to be revealed in a new book.

The suitor’s existence is known from family letters but neither his name nor the town where he met her has ever been established.

The name of the Rev Samuel Blackall, a Cambridge academic, appears in Austen’s letters. Now biographer Andrew Norman, a former GP, claims to have traced Blackall to a tryst with Austen in Totnes, Devon, in 1802.

Did anyone actually read the stuff Jane wrote about Blackall in her letters? And didn’t Cassandra say the guy died? He might have been there, but if there is a Mysterious Suitor-by-the-Sea, it ain’t Blackall. You can practically smell the desperation. We despair, we really do.

Thanks to Alert Janeites Lisa, Laurel Ann, and Mrs. Mish for the link.

Getting Local With Jane: Higher Education Edition


Welcome to Getting Local With Jane, our weekly or so roundup of local events of interest to Jane Austen enthusiasts. If your local region doesn’t appear in this post, keep checking back, for one week you might find something close to home (or interesting enough to travel for!)

The spring season is approaching for JASNA. Be sure to check out your local region’s upcoming events. Some regions allow non-members to attend a meeting as a guest, after which you’ll be sure to join and become a full member! (Note: not all regional events are listed on that page–click through to the region information for your local website or contact information.)

February 23-March 16, 2009 (Monday nights only), Watertown, New York: Audacious Austen at Jefferson Community College – a noncredit workshop studying three of Jane Austen’s novels, and the cost is extremely modest. Thanks to Alert Janeite Amy P. for the information.

April 19, 2009, Gainesville, Florida:Splendor in the Park with Jane Austen,” a Regency-themed garden party fundraiser held by the University of Florida School of Theater and Dance in conjunction with their spring production of Pride and Prejudice (see below).

April 10-19, 2009, Gainesville, Florida: The University of Florida School of Theater and Dance presents Jon Jory’s stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Tickets are $11-15; call the school for information.

Pride and Prejudice in Context at Millsaps College


Milsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, is offering a non-credit adult enrichment class, “Pride and Prejudice in Context,” beginning January 26. See the link for a phone number to call for details. Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link.

"I had entered on my studies at Oxford…"


You can say that along with Henry Tilney if you take one of Oxford University’s online courses–especially their course on Jane Austen, which is being offered again beginning very soon. As before, a bit expensive for those of us outside the EU, but we’ve heard all kinds of good things about it from those who have taken the course. Sion wrote to tell us, “It was excellent. I was able to look at Jane’s work in new ways, it was thoroughly enjoyable and I learned a great deal.”