Literary Lectures: Professor John Mullan (University College London) on Jane Austen

DSC_00161On 21st November, the English Department’s Literary Lectures series continued with a talk given by Professor John Mullan, Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature and Head of English Language and Literature at University College London, on the works of Jane Austen. Entitled ‘What matters in Jane Austen?’ (also the title of his 2012 book), over the course of the hour, Professor Mullan answered that question: quite a great deal!

Taking in Austen’s significance in contemporary culture and her place alongside respective nineteenth-century novelists such as Charles Dickens and George Eliot, Professor Mullan argued that Austen is unique in the sense that it can be difficult to locate her within her novels. Through detailed exploration of excerpts from Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Emma, Professor Mullan considered Austen’s pioneering use of free indirect discourse, as well as her depiction of age differences between the genders in marriages and the use of blushes as a trope in itself. The audience, comprising students, staff and parents, was given plenty of opportunities to display their own knowledge of the works of Jane Austen in this most engaging and thought-provoking of lectures.

Mr Li - Head of English