On Saturday, January 16, from 11-12:30 p.m. Pacific time, join us for a virtual talk by Jason Solinger on “Anti-Historical Austen: From ‘The History of England’ to Northanger Abbey.”
Solinger is an associate professor of English at the University of Mississippi, where he teaches classes in 18th and 19th century literature. He is the author of Becoming the Gentleman: British Literature and the Invention of Modern Masculinity, 1660-1815, which explains 18th century Britons’ obsession with the figure of the gentleman. He is currently working on a new book exploring the ways that Austen’s readers have shaped our ideas about literature.
His talk—an extended reprise of his presentation at JASNA’s 2020 Virtual Annual General Meeting—will examine Austen’s parody of history books, “The History of England.” His humorous and enlightening lecture slideshow should put to rest the notion that the text was a mere youthful lark. On the contrary, he will explain how “The History of England” articulates questions that shaped the adjacent disciplines of literature and history. His talk will address such questions as:
  • How much poetic license are we willing to grant the historian?
  • On what basis did Austen’s predecessors call their own novels “histories”?
  • Who is better at explaining the motivations that drive people, the historian or the novelist?
  • Which discourse—fiction or history—better prepares readers for being in the world?