In the last decades, the vision of Austen as a subversive or rebellious author has appeared most forcefully in the varied scholarship of feminist literary critics. Some feminists have fashioned an Austen more closely linked to what Juliet Mitchell has called The Longest Revolution' (the women's movement) than to the French Revolution; others have vehemently disagreed. Jane Austen and Discourses of Feminism involves - among other things - a reassessment of these versions of Austen's relationship to feminism. By foregrounding issues of artistic merit, genre and history, many literary critics have effectively ignored issues of gender in their studies of Austen; feminist scholarship provided an important corrective. On the other hand, some feminist criticism, although it approached Austen's texts in innovative ways, gave short shrift to issues of history, literary genre, social context, or artistry. This volume aims implicitly and explicitly to recap second-wave feminist attention to Austen and to suggest new directions that criticism on Austen might take.
DEVONEY LOOSER is the author of British Women Writers and the Writing of History (2000) and the editor of Generations: Academic Feminists in Dialogue (1997). She is assistant professor at Louisiana State University and is a member of the board of directors of the Jane Austen Society of North America.