Jane Austen: Between Brand and Desire

  • Donata Meneghelli Università di Bologna
Keywords: Jane Austen, Adapatation, Literature, Film, Popular Culture


“It is a truth universally acknowledged” that Jane Austen, after her canonization in the pantheon of Western literature, has recently gained unprecedented visibility in the global pop and media culture.  

The essay analyses the ways, the forms, the supports and channels through which Jane Austen herself as well as her novels (with particular attention to Pride and Prejudice) have crossed the threshold of academia, university curricula, and professional readers, to enter another cultural space – YouTube, fan communities and websites, pop music, blogs, romance, horror, and chick-lit – so becoming both one of the popular mythologies of Twentieth-first century and a powerful brand, that is, the centre of gravity of multiple economic interests, ranging from film and TV production, to publishing and tourism industry. Nowadays Austen is a means for catalysing (and exploiting) the desires, projections, and expectations of new typologies of readers. The essay especially focuses on Jane Austen fan fiction, which is the problematic ground where different media (litterature, cinema, TV, web and digital media in general), where producers and consumers, where reading and writing, where top down strategies and bottom up pressures, converge.

The Jane Austen case study highlights a host of ground-breaking transformations in the field of cultural production and consumption: on the one hand, a new textuality, multiple, rhizomatic, euphoric, emerges, which scorns any metaphysic of the original and perversely realizes some famous critical utopias. On the other hand, such a phenomenon points to some crucial contradictions that are inherent to any process of cultural democratization. 


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Author Biography

Donata Meneghelli, Università di Bologna

Donata Meneghelli is Associate  Professor at the University of Bologna, where she teaches Comparative Literature and Literature and Visual Studies. Her interests focus on the theory and history of the novel, intermediality, narratology, adaptation, literature and visuality, Henry James, the nouveau roman. Amongst her publications: Una forma che include tutto (1997), Teorie del punto di vista (1998),  “Quadri senza cornici, cornici senza quadri: il romanzo nello specchio della pittura”, La cornice, Ed. Federico Bertoni - Margherita Versari (2006), “Narrazione”, Dizionario tematico della letteratura, vol. III (2007), “Sophie Calle: tra fotografia e parola”, Guardare oltre, Ed. Silvia Albertazzi - Ferdinando Amigoni (2008), “La tension entre la forme et l’informe dans le roman du XXe siècle”, Formules (2009), Storie proprio così. Il racconto nell’era della narratività totale (2012), “Periodization, Comparative Literature, and Italian Modernism”, CLCweb: Comparative Literature and Culture (2013). She also works as a translator of critical and literary texts both from English and French.


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How to Cite
Meneghelli, D. (2014). Jane Austen: Between Brand and Desire. Between, 4(8). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/1358
Intermediality, Transmediality, Fanfiction