R420 Summer 2018 A Fresh Look at Jane Austen
Thursday, 9:40–11:05, July 19
Instructor: Beth Lambert
Why a “fresh” look? After all, Jane Austen is a well-known quantity in the literary world. In fact, this year, the 200th anniversary of her death, the British put her picture on the ten-pound note. That, if anything, should prove her resiliency to the fickle fortunes of literary fame. However, how many judge her novels to be just another woman-gets-her-man romance, albeit dressed in 18th-century style? How many categorize them as “chick lit” for those with old-fashioned literary tastes? Does the average reader know Jane Austen to be a novelist possessed of extraordinary insight into human nature in its many forms, and who has a delightfully deft command of satire and humor? In fact, she dealt with the social and political issues of her time in such a way as to make the modern reader acutely aware that not much has changed in 200 years. Accordingly, there is no better time than now to take a fresh look at Jane Austen’s talents and to recognize in her all the rich facets of an extraordinary writer.
Beth Lambert is the coordinator of the Reston OLLI program and the History Club. In 2008 she retired from Gettysburg College, where she taught courses on all aspects of 18th-century Britain.