Subversive Jane Austen: from the Critic to the Reader

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Many thanks to Serena Baiesi for news of an international conference entitled ‘Subversive Jane Austen’ coming up at the Inter-University Center for the Study of Romanticism (CISR), based at the University of Bologna.  This will take place on November 6th; there’s more information above and below, and the full programme can be downloaded by clicking here.

Subversive Jane Austen: from the Critic to the Reader

Inter-University Centre for the Study of Romanticism (CISR)
Gemma – Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies
Dipartimento di Lingue, Letterature e Culture Moderne – University of Bologna

November 6, 2015

The Inter-University Centre for the Study of Romanticism (CISR) of the University of Bologna directed by Lilla Maria Crisafulli, has established itself as a major international teaching and research centre in the field of Romantic, women’s, and gender studies. Within the multifaceted research activity in this area a key role is played by the studies devoted to the work and critical reception of Jane Austen, on which two important conferences have been organised during the 2000s: Jane Austen, Now and Then (October 2002) and Unmasking Jane Austen. Gli studi austeniani oggi (March 2009). The CISR has also established an intense collaborative relationship with the Chawton House Library, the internationally renowned research center on women’s writing Women’s Writing in English 1600 to 1830 located in the historic residence of the Austen family. Our conference intends to promote the continuity and visibility of the tradition of Austen studies at the University of Bologna and to map the most recent and promising developments of this constantly developing research area. In particular, our one-day conference will focus on subversive critical readings, and on the popular reception of an author in Italy, who is at the same time a ‘classic’ of the English literary canon and an icon of post-modern mass culture.

The first section of the conference, coordinated by Serena Baiesi, will deal with Austen’s subversiveness as outlined by recent scholarship. The theme will be discussed by internationally renowned scholars such as Beatrice Battaglia (University of Bologna); Katie Halsey (University of Stirling), Gillian Dow (University of Southampton and Director of Chawton House Library), and Bharat Tandon (University of East Anglia).

The second section of the conference will focus on the Italian context, and during the afternoon we will be discussing the contribute that critics can give to the comprehension of the novelist’s cultural role in Italy with distinguished Italian Austen scholars such as Diego Saglia and Eleonora Capra (Parma), Marianna D’Ezio (Rome), and Massimiliano Morini (Urbino). New critical approaches require a revision of translation strategies, which have been so far inspired by an essentially conservative reading of Austen and are now encouraged to engage with the twofold and ambiguous language of a novelist who unmasks the hypocrisies of Georgian society with an ironic writing that is extremely difficult to translate and has been hidden to the Italian reading public for a long time. Moreover, this section will also reflect on the large work of re-mediation of Austen’s life and novels and on the dissemination of Jane Austen’s fame in popular culture, through an endless amount of adaptations, imitations, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, turning her into a global literary brand able to appeal to readers and spectators belonging to diverse social and cultural contexts. The discussion of the manifold ways in which Austen is constantly re-mediated and re-codified will involve scholars (Cristina Bragaglia), together with readers, bloggers and other Janeites in a concluding round-table coordinated by Carlotta Farese hosting, among others, the founders of the Jane Austen Society of Italy.