On Jan. 14, the Los Angeles Review of Books published “Jane Austen—Feminist Icon,” an essay on Mansfield Park (among other things) by JASNA-StL member and former University of Missouri—Columbia professor Devoney Looser. In the essay, Looser tackles Austen’s “least appreciated” heroine, “mousy” Fanny Price.
Moving from society’s celebration of Pride and Prejudice to a contemplation of Mansfield Park gives us “an opportunity to think more deeply about Austen’s reception and about her relation to the women’s movement,” Looser writes. “Many readers today celebrate spunky Lizzy Bennet as a proto-feminist role model. What will we do with the dour, humorless Fanny? Are we doomed to repeat what most of the characters in Mansfield Park do and simply ignore her?”
Looser adds, “I hope not.”
Prof. Looser, by the way, has migrated from Columbia and the University of Missouri to Tempe and Arizona State University, where she began teaching last fall. As it turns out, Mizzou surrendered more than a valuable Austen expert, it gave up a “roller derby dame” also, as highlighted by this August 2013 profile of “Stone Cold Jane Austen” in the (Arizona) State Press.
Finally, from Phoenix, Looser sends this note: “I miss all of you in St. Louis!”