Austen's Unbecoming Conjunctions: Subversive Laughter, Embodied History

Paperback | September 2, 2008

byJill Heydt-Stevenson

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This lucid and insightful work investigates the role that dissident comedy plays in Austen’s writings. Using sexuality as a lens upon circa-1800 literary culture, this book emphasizes the physical life of Austen’s heroines, and contributes to recent analyses of popular culture, thing theory, and material history. Through her focus on objects, Heydt-Stevenson argues that Austen’s novels explore the physical, erotic, humorous, and sometimes tragically funny connotations of popular literature and commonplace books, clothing, jewelry, crafts, travel, and tourism.  Through an examination of Austen’s humor and linguistic patterns, this book interrogates the stereotypes of women authors as culturally inhibited, and shows how Austen addressed as sophisticated and worldly an audience as Byron's. Through her careful reading of all the Austen texts in light of the language of eroticism, both traditional and contemporary, Heydt-Stevenson reevaluates Austen's audience, the novels, and her role as a writer.

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From the Publisher

This lucid and insightful work investigates the role that dissident comedy plays in Austen’s writings. Using sexuality as a lens upon circa-1800 literary culture, this book emphasizes the physical life of Austen’s heroines, and contributes to recent analyses of popular culture, thing theory, and material history. Through her focus on o...

Jill Heydt-Stevenson is Director of the Center for British and Irish Studies and Associate Professor, Departments of English and Comparative Literature/Humanities, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.65 inPublished:September 2, 2008Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230602487

ISBN - 13:9780230602489

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations * Acknowledgments* Introduction: Did Jane Austen Really Mean That? * Bejeweling the Clandestine Body/Bawdy: The Miniature Spaces of Sense and Sensibility * The Anxieties and "Felicities of Rapid Motion": Animated Ideologies in Pride and Prejudice * Fashioning the Body: Cross-Dressing, Dressing, Undressing, and Dressage in Northanger Abbey * Making and Improving: Fallen Women, Masquerades, and Erotic Humor in Mansfield Park * "Praying to Cupid for a Cure": Venereal Disease, Prostitution, and the Marriage Market in Emma * "Unbecoming Conjunctions": Bawdy Mourning and the Female Gaze in Persuasion * Conclusion * Notes * Works Cited * Index

Editorial Reviews

 “This is a book that will forever change the way we read Jane Austen’s fiction. In a series of compelling and well-documented analyses, Jillian Heydt-Stevenson shows us that Austen’s work is replete with sexual jokes, bawdy humor, double-entendres, erotic puns. Moreover, she persuasively argues that for Jane Austen, the mind cannot be separated from the body: sense and sensibility, consciousness and physical sensations, thought and feeling, are inextricably fused.”-- Anne K. Mellor, Romantic Circles"Austen's Unbecoming Conjunctions is persuasive, engagingly written, and original in both detail and general argument."—Jocelyn Harris, Nineteenth-Century Literature