A Partial, Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian: Jane Austen’s The History of England and the Role of Politics in Late Eighteenth Century Female Education. A talk by Olga Palagina.
It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that Jane Austen's novels have become a source of fascination for book lovers and literary scholars alike. Since the end of the Victorian period, a staggering amount of academic and fictional literature about this eighteenth century author and her works have appeared in print. Austen's longstanding popularity has been cemented even further with the introduction of annual events such as the Jane Austen Bath Festival and Jane Austen Regency Week, which provide an opportunity for people to immerse themselves in everything related to Austen. Yet despite this, Jane Austen's Juvenilia has received little critical attention. The juvenile collection of works written by Austen between the ages of eleven and seventeen offers a precious insight into not only Austen's development as a writer but also the experience of female education in the years spanning 1775-1810, a period when education for girls was a much-contested topic of debate amongst social reformers and philosophers such as Hannah More and Mary Wollstonecraft. This paper explores how Austen's The History of England sheds new light on the role of politics in female education. Using this juvenile piece of work as a case study, it argues that girls received an informal education in politics through reading and discussion amongst family members within the confinement of the domestic sphere.
Our speaker is Olga Palagina, a post-graduate of Warwick University, studying History and Sociology.