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Title: A Truth Universally Acknowledged?: (Post)Feminist Rewritings of Austen's Marriage Plot.
Keywords: Jane Austen, spinoffs, intertextuality, feminism, narratology, cultural studies
Issue Date: 7-Jan-2011
Citation: MARIA LORENA MARTINEZ SANTOS (2011-01-07). A Truth Universally Acknowledged?: (Post)Feminist Rewritings of Austen's Marriage Plot.. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Nearly two centuries after she wrote them, Jane Austen?s novels continue to be meaningful, particularly to women readers. In the last two decades, the Austen industry has produced over 150 woman-authored offshoot novels which engage with Austen?s marriage plot. These largely romance-oriented Austenian intertexts bring about a critical re-evaluation of Austen?s novels and, more importantly, how women today interpret them and apply these meanings to their everyday lives. My thesis examines eleven spinoffs intentionally ?grafted? onto Austen?s narratives, life, and world in order to examine what in (perceptions about) Austen and the marriage plot are so meaningful to certain readers today. A key argument I make is that these spinoffs serve as venues for informal feminist debates and what I refer to as (post)feminist gestures. My introduction provides an overview of the spinoff phenomenon and introduces the approaches I use to analyze these Austenian palimpsests as sites of (post)feminist discourse. In my first three chapters, I utilize feminist narratology to analyze the spinoffs within the formal categories of sequel, retelling, and offshoot in order to draw out and identify patterns in the methods of and motivations for revisiting/reworking her fiction. In my fourth chapter, I harness cultural/reception theory to examine the spinoffs? ?paratextual? and contextual aspects. Specifically, I look for what guides the (post)feminist reshaping of Austen in the ways in which authors and publishers mediate Austen to the reader and in the readers? responses to these rewritings. Unified by their connection to Austen and their acknowledgment of popular culture?s linking of her works with romance, these spinoffs nevertheless make divergent (post)feminist interventions. Austen?s own depolemicized yet political approach to gender debates of her time allows her rewriters to both celebrate and interrogate subjects like love, courtship and marriage, constructions of femaleness and femininity, and the desire to have both love and independence. Romance-oriented spinoffs and those that attempt to provide more than a fantasy escape call attention to the enduring appeal of the love-story aspects of Austen?s fiction and to the reasons for this. While some merely identify the fixation on romance and the happy marriage ending, others question and problematize this or to seek to explain it and offer alternatives ? not to Austen but to romantic readings of her. Thus, although many spinoffs lack literary merit, offer ?unsanctioned? readings of Austen, and contain conflicting and sometimes problematic (post)feminist gestures, such rewritings are an important part of larger debates not just about Austen but about gender and reception that spans Austen?s past and the contemporary moment.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D Theses (Open)

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