Austen and Woolf Revisited: Muddy Petticoats, Sally's Kiss, and the Neoliberal Now

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Virginia Tech


This project examines the implications of mythologizing women writers, specifically Woolf and Austen, and transforming them into their own famous characters. Using various writings that theorize women's voices, sense of agency, and political autonomy in relationship with the public/private dichotomy, this project argues that women writers are often appropriated and fictionalized in this way because of a patriarchal cultural understanding that women are associated with the private, personal, and domestic spheres. More importantly, it argues that this increasingly frequent treatment aligns with and forwards a neoliberal political and cultural agenda. The politics of the last twenty or thirty years, in short, are shaping interpretations and adaptations of major works of the English canon, specifically Mrs. Dalloway and Pride and Prejudice. Particular examples of such adaptations include The Hours, Vanessa and Her Sister, Becoming Jane, and Longbourn. This project ultimately analyzes these and a select number of other texts in order to show that these contemporary treatments of two of the most famous female writers from the English canon reveal quite a bit about current attitudes within the United States about gender (in)equality, care work/dependency, and sexuality.



Woolf, Austen, Neoliberalism, Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Dalloway, The Hours, Becoming Jane, Longbourn, Vanessa and Her Sister