Date Approved

2010

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

English Language and Literature

Abstract

There is no escaping Jane Austen. Though it has been nearly two hundred years since her death, Austen and her work continues to capture the minds and hearts of readers worldwide. Our fascination with her novels continues to grow, finding new expression in literature, television and film each year. What makes this phenomenon so interesting is the reality that Austen’s novels are so firmly “dated” – that is, so rigorously cemented and relevant to the age in which it was written. Why do readers and viewers continue to find Austen’s works so relevant, given that it is so bound to this particular late eighteenth and early nineteenth century period and its social and cultural structures and values? This question is best explained through the examination of contemporary film that has so determinedly adapted her works over the past fifteen years. While these films labor to interpret Austen’s novels to film, at the same time they communicate through various departures how our perspective, both culturally and about Austen’s work – and period of history – has changed. Yet even in these departures, the films resonate dynamically with values which, over the course of two hundred years, remain unchanged. Despite the numerous and apparent shifts in culture, values and structures that have occurred in our world over the past two centuries, the core of what we value – what we hold to be most true and important – remains timeless.

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