Updatings of jane
A native New Yorker and lifelong Brooklyn resident, Herendeen graduated with high honors in English from Princeton University.She also holds a Master of Library Science degree from Pratt Institute.
—Lionel Trilling Austen’s work as part of what Trilling calls “opinions,” then we come close to the present era’s obsession with appropriating, reworking, transcoding, and recycling her novels.
In this context, it is a truth not always, or not easily, acknowledged that student engagement with Austen’s novels today is always already mediated by film adaptations as well as the wealth of sequels, prequels, and rewrites, or “post-texts,” the collective name that I find most useful for these productions.
The students who took my most recent course on Jane Austen—at the same time as Lost in Austen was serialized on TV—are part of the Generation-Y audience that Laurie Kaplan notes is “most likely to see an adaptation first and to read the novel after having been impressed with someone else’s vision of the characters and setting.” Indeed, my own reading of the novels is now inextricably bound up with this Austen culture, so that it is sometimes difficult to keep the canonical and the recreated securely separate.
Partly because of my own hybrid relation to Austen, as well as the cross-over influence of my teaching in American Cultural Studies, I included a fan fiction assignment on my course, “Jane Austen: Fiction, History, Fans.” The present essay gives an account of this experiment and aims to contribute to the ongoing conversation about the “customization” and teaching of Austen that has been taking place recently in Austen Studies.
Like Diana Birchall, I claim that “a new understanding of Austen’s works can be gained by the unorthodox method of writing pastiche.” However, I argue that this phenomenon has specific modalities when it takes place in a pedagogic context.
Jennifer Crusie, Pam Rosenthal, Lauren Willig, Jayne Ann Krentz) and academics to take genre romance seriously as an object of study, and not only through the lens of sociology.