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The UT Humanities Center's Distinguished Lecture Series
Rachel Cohen, "Reading Through Trouble: A Changing Experience of Jane Austen and Her Work"

For the writer Rachel Cohen, the years of 2012 to 2019 were difficult years – both in the world and for her personally. During that time, one of her most central reading relationships was with Jane Austen. She wrote a book of personal literary criticism, Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels, which was published in 2020 in a world transforming again, through the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Austen herself lived in a time of transformation – a period when women writers struggled anew to find their voices as well as a period of industrialization, the Napoleonic Wars, and the trade in enslaved persons that Austen and her abolitionist brothers opposed. In her talk, Professor Cohen considers the possibilities and challenges of personal literary criticism, what it means to someone to re-read literature at different life moments, and the relevance of Austen 200 years after her time.

Oct 19, 2020 03:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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