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Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

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Johnson to discuss Austen's popularity during war, March 3

Claudia Johnson, the Murray Professor of English Literature, will present the third and final talk in this year's President's Lecture Series when she discusses "Jane Austen and War" at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, in 101 Friend Center.

A specialist in 18th- and early 19th-century literature, with a particular emphasis on the novel, Johnson has written extensively about Jane Austen. In her lecture, she will discuss the author's great popularity during World Wars I and II.

"It seems self-evident nowadays that Jane Austen is a woman's novelist who writes about manners, tea parties and delicate things," Johnson said. "But what I have discovered is that Jane Austen was adored as a man's novelist, and particularly during times of World War, as a soldier's novelist, and that this was so not because her fiction seemed to represent a quiet world to escape to, but rather because it has so much to teach us about enduring."

While much of her lecture will address Austen's stature as a war novelist, Johnson also will discuss the more general capacity of literature to console and to strengthen people during times of national crisis.

The series was started by President Tilghman in 2001 to bring together faculty members from different disciplines to learn about the work others are doing in a variety of fields. The lectures are Webcast live.

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