Jane Austen: The Cult of the Janeites with William Bernhardt

Jane Austen: The Cult of the Janeites with William Bernhardt


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It is a truth universally acknowledged that over two hundred years have passed since the publication of Pride and Prejudice, but Jane Austen is not only widely read but inspires more devotion than any other writer. Janeites (a term coined by George Saintsbury in 1894) write fan fiction, wear costumes, throw tea parties, post to message boards, and join clubs throughout the world. Austen has a fan-following rivaling Harry Potter or Star Trek. What explains this enduring appeal? This seminar will examine Austen's life, her work, her reception, and why she has developed such a dedicated and resilient following.

We know relatively little about Jane Austen's life. Nonetheless, she looms large on the literary horizon. Her novels critiqued the landed gentry and women's dependence on marriage, and in many ways, began the transition to nineteenth-century literary realism. But her criticism was always ameliorated by her sense of humor. Austen's biting irony, sharp dialogue, and appealing heroines have earned her praise and affection from readers, critics, and academics.

In this seminar, published author and literary expert William Bernhardt will discuss Austen's life, her reception, and why she has attracted such a dedicated following. He will also discuss the work itself, the six novels that have had such an impact. What is it readers see in Elizabeth Bennet (and no other heroine of that time)? Was Emma Woodhouse an apology for Elizabeth Bennet? Was Persuasion Austen's wish-fulfillment story? Designed to appeal to those who have read Austen repeatedly as well as those reading her for the first time, this seminar will illuminate a phenomenal literary career.

William Bernhardt is a scholar, teacher, author of more than fifty published works, including several New York Times-bestselling novels. In addition to his many crime and mystery novels, Bernhardt has written plays, a musical (book and music), nonfiction, children's books, poetry, and created jig-saw puzzles. He was also a Champion on Season 30 of the game show Jeopardy! He is the founder and President of the Red Sneaker Writing Center which provides resources to support upcoming writers. The Center hosts the annual WriterCon in Oklahoma City and small-group seminars across the US, as well as a free monthly e-newsletter and a biweekly podcast — reaching more than 20,000 subscribers. Bernhardt has received many accolades for his writing, including an induction into the Oklahoma Writers’ Hall of Fame. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law and currently lives in Oklahoma with his wife and their children.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
80%
(4)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
20%
(1)
0%
(0)
B
B.H.
Lost in Austen

William Bernhardt certainly knows his Jane Austen. His knowledge of the characters in Austen’s novels and how they might have represented characters and incidents in Austen’s life was impressive. Bernhardt’s lecture style brought to life a subject which I thought had already been studied to death.

L
L.B.
Great for Janeites

Really enjoyed it. Lots of good research ang great slides. Fully enjoyed it.

S
S.S.
Janeites

Dr. Bernhardt was wonderful! I am a rather OLD fan of Jane Austin's who was first introduced to her by the great Laurence Olivier and too old but still charming Greer Garson..I loved your entertaining/ educational talk - it made me remember how much I loved all her books. Thank you!!!

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

M
M.B.
Some errors

I stopped about 20 minutes in because of factual errors. Chawton House was not Jane's home; she was in Chawton Cottage (a different building entirely). The movie Love and Friendship was based on Lady Susan (not her childhood story Love and Freindship as Austen spelled it). Sense and Sensibility was not set in Bath. Lots of little errors that made me wonder about the Austen expertise of the speaker.

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
80%
(4)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
20%
(1)
0%
(0)
B
B.H.
Lost in Austen

William Bernhardt certainly knows his Jane Austen. His knowledge of the characters in Austen’s novels and how they might have represented characters and incidents in Austen’s life was impressive. Bernhardt’s lecture style brought to life a subject which I thought had already been studied to death.

L
L.B.
Great for Janeites

Really enjoyed it. Lots of good research ang great slides. Fully enjoyed it.

S
S.S.
Janeites

Dr. Bernhardt was wonderful! I am a rather OLD fan of Jane Austin's who was first introduced to her by the great Laurence Olivier and too old but still charming Greer Garson..I loved your entertaining/ educational talk - it made me remember how much I loved all her books. Thank you!!!

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

M
M.B.
Some errors

I stopped about 20 minutes in because of factual errors. Chawton House was not Jane's home; she was in Chawton Cottage (a different building entirely). The movie Love and Friendship was based on Lady Susan (not her childhood story Love and Freindship as Austen spelled it). Sense and Sensibility was not set in Bath. Lots of little errors that made me wonder about the Austen expertise of the speaker.