Department of English

Professor Barchas Covers Jane Austen for the New York Times

Thu, February 14, 2013
Book covers of 'Pride and Prejudice'
Book covers of 'Pride and Prejudice'

As Pride and Prejudice, first published in 1813, celebrates its 200th anniversary, Jane Austen is seeing a resurgence of popular and critical attention in the media and beyond.  A key contributor to this conversation, Associate Professor Janine Barchas, continues to publish articles and write blog posts that explore not only Jane Austen’s novels, but also her current popularity and cultural reception over time.

The most recent of these articles, “The 200-Year Jane Austen Book Club” will be featured as a back pager in this Sunday’s Book Review section of the New York Times.  It is already available online in Arts Beat on the NYT website.  The richly illustrated article, which gives examples of the history of Pride and Prejudice’s cover art, is a small part of Barchas’ ongoing research project.  The larger project—working title: Jane Austen between the Covers—aims to offer a new methodology for Austen’s reception history by tracking the marketing of Austen through book cover designs.  As Barchas has discovered, the covers of Austen’s many reprintings, from 1833 to the present, attest to her varied market segmentation as well as her evolving and fluctuation reputation from decade to decade.  Barchas feels that this visual record of Austen’s popular reputation suggests her intermittent remixing with lowbrow culture and may not match what scholars have assumed was a steady upward climb towards canonicity and literary acceptability.

You can read the online version of her essay, “The 200-Year Jane Austen Book Club,” on the New York Times website.  Be sure to look at the fabulous slideshow of covers!

Professor Barchas’ most recent book on Austen is Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity.  Published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2012, the book argues for Austen’s sustained interest in the celebrity culture of her own time by showing how she borrows famous names for her fictional characters or sets her stories in real-world locations with specific historical or “celebrity” associations.  You can find out more information about the book at Johns Hopkins University Press and read reviews in the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement

To read even more of Barchas’ work on Austen, check out some of her recently published articles and blog posts:

 

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