Jane Austen's Women

An Introduction

By Kathleen Anderson

Subjects: Women's Studies, Nineteenth-century Studies, English Literature, Literary Criticism
Paperback : 9781438472263, 320 pages, December 2018
Hardcover : 9781438472256, 320 pages, December 2018

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Table of contents


Preface: "Nobody doubts her right to have precedence": Jane Austen's Heroine as Universal Subject

Part I: Women and the Body: Strength, Sex, and Austenian Wellness

1. "I am strong enough now to walk very well": Vigor and Femininity in Mansfield Park

2. "I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other": Sexual Orthodoxy and the Quest for the Best Mate

Part II: Women's Natures: Mood, Mind, Spirit, and Female Giftedness

3. "Determined to Be Happy": The Path to Emotional Health in Sense and Sensibility
Jordan L. Von Cannon, Co-author

4. "Ingenious or Stupid?": Women's Intelligences, according to "the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress"

5. "Born to Be Connected": Female Monasticism and Vocation in Austen's Novels

Part III. Women and Others: The Female Self in Environmental, Social, and Imaginative Space

6. "Mamma says I am never within": Heroines' Eco-affinities as Identityscapes

7. "What is the foolish girl about?": Austen's Feminist Fools Speak Out

8. "Unpropitious for Heroism": Female Greatness in the Austenian Imagination

Works Cited

An original critical introduction to women characters in the novels of Jane Austen.


Why does Jane Austen "mania" continue unabated in a postmodern world? How does the brilliant Regency novelist speak so personally to today's women that they view her as their best friend? Jane Austen's Women answers these questions by exploring Austen's affirming yet challenging vision of both who her dynamic female characters are, and who they become. This important new work analyzes the heroines' relationships to body, mind, spirit, environment, and society. It reveals how, despite a restrictive patriarchal culture, these women achieve greatness. In clear, lively prose, Kathleen Anderson shares original theoretical insights from twenty years of studying Austen, and illuminates the novels as guidebooks on how to become an Austenian heroine in one's everyday life. This engaging book will appeal to a broad readership: the serious student, the general lit-lover, and the Austen neophyte alike.

Kathleen Anderson is Professor of English at Palm Beach Atlantic University and the coauthor (with Susan Jones) of Jane Austen's Guide to Thrift: An Independent Woman's Advice on Living Within One's Means.


"The volume serves scholars and casual readers alike and contains both fresh ideas and helpful summaries of previous Austen criticism … With its lively style, careful scholarship, and inspired interpretations, Jane Austen's Women is a valuable addition to the literature that validates its author's temerity." — JASNA News

"Kathleen Anderson's comprehensive and wide-ranging study of women in Jane Austen's six novels maps out thematic patterns and character types in an almost encyclopaedic manner … Anderson's methodology is unique and sophisticated." — Eighteenth-Century Fiction

"Recognizing the appeal of Jane Austen in popular culture, Anderson has written an introduction that will be accessible to and interest a general audience but also draws from academic criticism." — CHOICE

"Jane Austen's Women examines aspects of Austen's female characters in new ways. Anderson thoroughly and competently sifts through the many meanings of 'womanhood' in Austen's time and, directly or by implication, in our own. It was a pleasure to read this delightful analysis accompanied by illuminating references to our own contemporary culture." — Susan Ostrov Weisser, author of The Glass Slipper: Women and Love Stories

"Jane Austen's Women hits the sweet spot between delightful critical introduction and inspiring guidebook for how to live out Austen's vision of what Kathleen Anderson calls 'the heroinism of everyday life.' Her discerning close readings of female bodies, emotions, intelligence, work, and love combine lucid interpretation with strong insight. This book will prompt readers of Austen, whether seasoned or beginning, to return to Austen's novels with vital questions and renewed energy." — Devoney Looser, author of The Making of Jane Austen