ENGL 628 Jane Eyre Neo-Victorian Appropriations Dashboard


Jane Eyre: An Autobiography (1847) is a seminal text in the Western feminist literature canon, published fifty-five years after Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and a year before the Seneca Falls convention launched the feminist movement in Western culture. Scores of authors, directors, and digital producers have attempted not just to adapt but to appropriate, revise, and modernize Charlotte Bronte’s most famous novel. Antonija Primorac contends that the current vogue of neo-Victorianism is “a powerful trend in contemporary Anglophone media” pointing to the “continuous production of adaptations and appropriations of Victorian literature and culture.” In order to be considered neo-Victorian, Ann Heilmann and Mark Llewellyn posit that “texts (literary, filmic, audio / visual) must in some respect be self-consciously engaged with the act of (re)interpretation, (re)discovery and (re)vision concerning the Victorians” (emphasis in original). In this class, we will explore the creative and rhetorical choices twentieth- and twenty-first-century authors have made when appropriating, revising, and modernizing Jane Eyre’s narrative, paying particular attention to gender ideology in the Victorian era and in more recent times. In this course, we will also leverage the new media capabilities of the COVE (Central Online Victorian Educator) web site in order to examine more deeply the impact of multimodal writing and digital technology on literary studies in the twenty-first century.

Galleries, Timelines, and Maps

Posted by Kate Oestreich on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - 16:59

Map of locations relevant to Jane Eyre and its Adaptations / Appropriations

Posted by Kate Oestreich on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - 16:51



Individual Entries

Blog entry
Posted by Parag Desai on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 14:40

Jacqueline Banerjee in “Frail Treasures: Child Death and the Victorian Novel” (2007) describes the Victorian novelists’ obsession with death as a means of resolve. Victorian writers would situate an innocent child who slowly accrues self-awareness after a death. This sacrificial death would then create an impetus for character development. Banerjee describes this as a meeting between the Romantic ideal of the innocent child and the Evangelical ‘saved’ [dead] child who then serves as a spiritual guide, as an angel. While the process of the death and dying is a quite chaotic, there are subtle transformations that the innocent child goes through that indicates that they, too, are near the liminal space between life and death in ways that disorient the character, causing confusion and identity crises.

            We see this working with Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (2016), where at first when she is separated from her best friend Helen Burns she,...

Posted by Sierra Windham on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 12:40
Posted by Sierra Windham on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 12:36
Posted by Sierra Windham on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 12:32
Posted by Sierra Windham on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 12:28
Blog entry
Posted by Sierra Windham on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 12:22

From early on in Lindner’s hypertext, Jane makes a clear distinction between herself and other young women—chiefly through appearances. “I didn’t expend a lot of effort on my looks,” Jane muses. “I liked to think I had better things to do with my time than shop for lip gloss and clothes. In fact, I didn’t think about my appearance much, usually” (Lindner 18). Despite this claim, Jane is constantly weighing her appearance against those of the women around her. Although Brontë’s original Jane has her own despairing moments of insecurity, her self-criticisms, as well as those of the people around her, are mainly comprised of the following sentiment: “small and plain.” Even in the brutal comparison between herself and Blanche Ingram, Jane only refers to herself as “disconnected, poor, and plain” (Brontë 146). What is so interesting about the language shift in Lindner’s adaptation is the new mode of breaking down each individual body part during comparisons and examinations; for example...

Blog entry
Posted by Sierra Windham on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 12:20

In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jane and Rochester build an intensely intimate connection through conversations centered around religion and morality. In her modernized adaptation Jane, April Lindner is quick to establish a similar spiritual link between Jane Moore and Nico Rathburn—this time, however, in the form of art. When prompted to divulge her musical preferences, Jane states: “I tend to like classical music. Baroque. Romantic. But not the modern atonal kind” (Lindner 4). This specificity is important, foreshadowing her later connection to Nico: Baroque, in the visual arts, is marked by its sharp contrast between light and dark, intended to evoke grand emotional responses. The musical definition of Baroque is much the same, emphasizing contrast as a dramatic element and positing music as an effective mode of communication. This statement tells us much about Jane herself, but becomes a cue to story progression once Jane is given the initial tour of Nico’s home. Spotting the...

Blog entry
Posted by Sierra Windham on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 12:18

When Jane Eyre travels to Lowood, she chooses, stubbornly, to stop eating. This decision (though of course linked to her depression) is a clear act of resistance within a setting where Jane does not have much autonomy; her refusal to eat for these first few days indicates that Jane has found an outlet for expression separate from her mode of speaking out, which is sure to result in swift punishment. In The Flight of Gemma Hardy, the titular character undergoes a similar act of resistance following a traumatic experience. However, instead of refusing to eat, Gemma decides she will simply stop talking. After Gemma witnesses the attack on Drummond, a fellow working girl, she struggles to understand why Drummond does not report the roommates who assaulted her and admits that she "did not know how to voice the shame that that must surely accompany such an attack" (Livesey 66). This instance foreshadows an identical attack on Gemma later in the novel. It is worth noting that, although...

Blog entry
Posted by Sierra Windham on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 12:16

“On one of our walks to the fort he had described the town of Bath, and how it had been built around the hot springs where the goddess Sulis lived. Sulis’s followers, my uncle said, used to throw lead tablets into the water inscribed with requests for children or good harvests, or sometimes curses” (Livesey 27).

This is the first instance in which Sulis is invoked in The Flight of Gemma Hardy. When her uncle first relates the mythos of the goddess to a young Gemma, she admits that “the idea that just by saying certain words you could harm someone fascinated [her]” (Livesey 28). Later, Gemma recalls Sulis at Claypoole during one of Mr. Waugh’s sermons, and again on page 147 after she responds cooly to the vicious Mr. Milne: “My mouth burned as if each word I’d spoken had been a fiery nugget. My curse wasn’t written on a lead tablet and offered to Sulis, but I hoped it would nonetheless prove effective” (Livesey). For Gemma, clearly, the story of Sulis is connected to the...

Chronology Entry
Posted by madison rahner on Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 09:32