SAM Seminar: Picturing Jane Austen’s Fiction

When:25 Jul 2017, 5pm - 6:30pm
Venue:G17 Robert Webster Building
Who:Devoney Looser is Professor of English at Arizona State University

Jane Austen’s early illustrators shaped how readers imagined her characters and stories over the course of a century and more, yet until recently, we’ve known very little about them.

In this talk, Looser will discuss how illustrations of Austen’s fiction contributed to the shaping of her posthumous legacy. Some Austen scholars mistakenly approach illustrations as popular detritus or frivolous accessories, downplaying their significance as works of visual interpretation with wide impact. Looser will chart how Austen’s popular legacy in book illustration emerged in the 1820s and 1830s, through melodramatic, gothic domestic scenes. The dominant visual register had shifted to light, bright, and sparkling comic images by the 1890s and eventually to satire and greater eclecticism.

The lecture will delve into the lives, careers, and artistic choices of prominent Austen illustrators, building on discoveries in Looser’s new book, The Making of Jane Austen. Today many people are introduced to Austen’s fiction through film adaptations, vlog series, or video games—a fact that some celebrate and others lament. It’s important to remind ourselves how book illustration once played a similarly foundational, controversial role. 

Devoney Looser is Professor of English at Arizona State University. She has an impressive portfolio of published works, including Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750-1850 (Johns Hopkins UP, 2008) and British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820 (Johns Hopkins UP, 2000; paperback 2005). Her latest book, The Making of Jane Austen (Johns Hopkins UP, 2017), has just been published.

SAM Seminar Series

This series provides a showcase and forum for local as well as international scholars, researchers, industry practitioners and creative artists – ranging from early-career to well-established – to present on their work. No need to book, all welcome.

Find out more and see the full program.
Enquiries contact: SAM Seminar Convenor, Collin Chua –

Finding us

Robert Webster Building is located mid-way off the UNSW main walkway. Map Reference G14. Room G17 is located on the ground floor.

More information on getting to UNSW.
Download a campus map.  (PDF)

Supported by UNSW Creative Practice Lab

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