Dr. Amy Smith and the Appeal of Jane Austen’s Characters

This is the transcript of a podcast with Professor Amy Smith, who recognized a common thread among her students when she taught Jane Austen, as opposed to when she taught other classic writers, such as Dickens or the Brontes. To read the complete article, please visit  WAMC: Northwest Public Radio’s website at http://www.wamc.org/post/dr-amy-smith-university-pacific-appeal-jane-austen-s-characters

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Amy Smith of the University of the Pacific probes the international appeal of the characters that populate the work of Jane Austen.

Amy Smith is an associate professor of English at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. In addition to a course in technical communication, she also teaches a popular course on Jane Austen.

About Dr. Smith

Dr. Amy Smith – The Appeal of Jane Austen’s Characters

Something fascinating happens when I teach Jane Austen – something that doesn’t with novels by Bronte or Dickens or Hemingway. Students immediately recognize people they know in Austen’s characters.

With Sense and Sensibility, somebody inevitably says, “My friend is such a Marianne, she drives me nuts!” Or with Pride and Prejudice: “Mrs. Bennet is hilarious – she’s just like my aunt!” Nobody’s ever read Wuthering Heights in one of my classes and said, “That Heathcliff is just like my boyfriend!” I got to wondering . . . would this “Austen Connection” happen with readers in other countries? I decided to run an Austen road test in Latin America to find out. I did book groups on Austen’s novels, in Spanish, in Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina.

So, did readers connect with Austen? Yes and no – but mostly, yes.


About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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