If you need a quick Jane Austen break, here's a four-minute dive into Sense and Sensibility, with a moving passage I selected on illness and recovery. I'm grateful for the chance to kick off Penguin Classics's Crash Courses series with this inaugural episode of recorded-at-home messages about how #BooksConnectUs https://instagram.com/tv/B_VOlX7AY5e/
Some happy news in difficult times: Project Muse, Johns Hopkins University Press, and many other presses have made available hundreds of books and journals for free download during COVID-19, including my books. Until May 31, 2020, The Making of Jane Austen is available for free download. If you download and read, I'd be grateful if you dropped me a line to tell me what you thought of it--or tell readers on Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub? Hope you are staying safe and healthy, and I look forward to being in touch again in the coming weeks.
Check out my just-published piece, "Five Myths About Jane Austen," in the Washington Post. It's in the March 8th print paper on p. B3, too. Want a sneak peak? The five myths that emerged were . . .
I'm happy to share my latest essay, which unearths a hidden-in-plain-sight work of short fiction that must now go down as the first-known piece of Jane Austen-inspired fan fiction. It's in this week’s TLS, available here, with full text of the newly unearthed 1823 piece of fan fiction here. There's a conversation on the TLS podcast, if you'd rather get the audio version first. The December 13th issue has several great Austen and Regency-related reviews, including work by Paula Byrne and Gillian Dow.
I'm excited to share my piece because I think it's an Austen afterlife bombshell—and not only because it imagines her wearing a blue dress, lace cap, and pink ribbons (great details!) but because it also describes her as a night-owl writer in life. She even comes back as a ghostly figure to kiss would-be female authors with gilt-covered copies of Persuasion. Really! It's a fascinating read. It's likely by the writer Mary Russell Mitford, who knew people with firsthand access to Austen's looks and habits. To learn more about Mitford, check out Digital Mitford. To learn more about the periodical in which this work of short fiction was published, check out The Lady's Magazine Project. I learned last week that Professor Jennie Batchelor has been writing about this 1823 piece, looking at Austen through the lens of The Lady's Magazine. We have her further thoughts on it, and her forthcoming book, to look forward to in 2020. I'm eager to hear what others make of it, too. Do you think it's by Mitford? Do you think it could be fiction based in fact?
So glad to add my voice to those celebrating the USWNT win with this essay, "Oos-Oos-Oos-ah!" or "Joy in US Womens' Football," in the July 12th TLS.
Think Jane Austen was in her "dark ages" in the 1820s, in the first decade after she died? It wasn't quite that stark. I've just published a piece in Essays in Romanticism describing how one novelist, Jane West, reimagined Austen's Emma in her novel Ringrove (1827). Did West admire Emma or did she disapprove? Some of the changes West made to Austen's plot suggest she wanted to write a different story about gender, class, and privilege, especially when it came to farmer-suitors. Is West's Emma Herbert a fictional response to Austen's Emma Woodhouse? I think so. Let me know what you think!
My essay, "Teaching Jane Austen to Sex Offenders," appeared in Salon. It means a lot to me that this piece makes its way to readers, although I know not all will respond in the same way. The issues raised are important to me, and I think, to all of us #EducationForAll
Prof. Devoney Looser (aka Stone Cold Jane Austen).
©2021 Devoney Looser, Dept. of English, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1401