Works Written By: A Lady–still relavant 200 years and counting

By: Noelle Kozak

In the scholarly world of Jane Austen, one of the most prominent journals comes from JANSA—The Jane Austen Society of North America—whose mission is to promote the reading, study, understanding, and enjoyment of Jane Austen, her work, life and genius (JANSA). Their publication, Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal On-Line, is published every 16th of December and features a wide variety of scholarly work (JANSA). Currently they are accepting submissions for Persuasions with no specific topic being listed. However, there are guidelines which include a word limit of 2000 to 4000 words written under MLA with reference to specific editions of Jane Austen’s works (JANSA). In addition to this, the organization is also offering  conducting an essay contest which “ aligns with the JASNA Annual General Meeting theme, “Pride and Prejudice . . . Timeless” (JANSA). After looking at the four most recent volumes of work compiled by JANSA, (winter editions from 2009-2012) I have discovered many different trends. Some of those trends that are of scholarly notice are that of feminism and adaptations.

From 2009-2012, feminism played a prominent role in studies of Jane Austen’s work. Scholars are continually finding new ways to look at her characters and interpret their personalities, actions, relationships etc. Within Persuasions, feminism is present  trend in a variety of works including the following:  “The City of Sisterly Love: Jane Austen’s Community as Sorority;” “The Liberation of Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice;” “Aisha, Rajshree Ojha’s Urban Emma: Not Entirely Clueless” and  “ ‘Jane Would Approve:’ ” Gender and Authenticity at Louisiana’s Jane Austen Literary Festival.”  This trend in feminism is of great interest to scholars today because of the way Austen wrote her characters ahead of her time.

During the same four years, adaptations have also been a really prominent trend within this journal. Since there are many adaptations of Jane Austen in many shapes and forms, the contributing authors had a lot to work with. Within the journal adaptation trends have included  a variety of pieces including the following: “Adapting Emma for the Twenty-first Century: An Emma No One Will Like;” “Our Austen: Fan Fiction in the Classroom;” “From Page to Screen: Emma Thompson’s Film Adaptation of Sense and Sensibility” and “Variations on a Theme: Openings, Closings, and Returns in Pride & Prejudice.” Just as feminism is constantly being discussed in Austen, adaptations are extremely relevant today. Austen’s work is constantly being re-imagined, revised and rewritten for a modern audience in very unique ways.

Austen lovers and scholars alike should take these themes into consideration because new ideas are constantly happening in the world of Jane Austen. And, they can only build on each other. Yet the very idea that scholars are still finding ways to critically examine and engage her work over two hundred years later, really says something about her standing as an author. Two hundred years later everyone is still asking Why Jane, and why now? That has to count for something.

Works Cited

“The Jane Austen Society of North America.” The Jane Austen Society of North America. http://www.jasna.org/index.html, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

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