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Washington and Lee University    
  Feb 23, 2018
2017-2018 University Catalog archived

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ENGL 254 - I Heart Jane: Austen's Fan Cultures and Afterlives

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: Completion of FDR FW requirement. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Jane Austen has attained a celebrity that far exceeds the recognition she enjoyed during her lifetime. The fan culture that now surrounds Austen, her spunky heroines, and her swoon-worthy heroes rivals that of Star Wars or Harry Potter. Austen enthusiasts meet for book club, wear Regency costumes, convene for tea, and throw balls with period-appropriate music and dance. All of this mooning over Mr. Darcy, however, could easily be the object of Austen's own satire. Mercilessly lampooning silliness and frivolity, "dear Jane" was more inveterate cynic than hopeless romantic. How, then, did Austen transform from biting social satirist to patron saint of chick lit? Beginning with three of Austen's novels, and then turning to the fan cultures surrounding Pride and Prejudice, this course examines the nature of fandom, especially its propensity to change and adapt the very thing it celebrates. What does it mean to be a fan? Is there such a thing as an "original" or authorial meaning of a text? What do Austen's fan cultures say about both the novels themselves and the society that appropriates them? Walle.

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