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Dorene Ames

1999 Research
Abstract: Austen's World of Feminisms
Mentor: Dr. Philip Weller, English


As a female undergraduate studying the romantic novels of Jane Austen, I had trivialized her work as being simply well written. It wasn't until I actually had to write about her work that had what I now call a revelation and was able to note her feminist voice. This occurred when I began desperately seeking something other in Auste's works than well written novels with incredibly constructed sentences. For me Austen's irony and sardonic humor were obvious; her insults toward the gentry, overt; her heroines often Shakespearean. However, Austen's novels began to read like an elongated ad in the personals with just as much predictability. What I had been taught to be the appeal of Austen's writings was now lending itself toward the repulsion I felt as a radical feminist for her writing. Her focus on class disgusted my communist sympathies. I was upset that I had even agreed to a directed study on Austen at home while my broken leg healed. Here I was locked up alone with Austen, in the coldness of winter, and bleakly her novels now appeared to encapsulate everything I opposed.

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