Keynote Speaker

Austen Bodies and Austen Minds: a Psychology of Happiness

Jane Austen’s characters negotiate a complex web of social interactions. Manners in a city like London or Bath, as seen in her novels, are unlike the courtesies expected in villages of the English countryside. Much attention has been paid to the norms surrounding friendship and courtship, such as fancy dress balls, carefully crafted letters, and heartfelt confessions of love. But in order to be successful in our interactions with others, Austen argues, we must first resolve the tensions within ourselves. Jane Austen’s heroines must carefully navigate between the pull of their logical minds and the desires of their feeling bodies– not always an easy task. Together, we’ll explore a bit of nineteenth-century psychology to learn about the mental lives of Austen’s most beloved characters, and in so doing, we might learn about ourselves.

Dr. Deborah Aschkenes

Presented by Dr. Deborah Aschkenes

Deborah Aschkenes earned her BA at New York University and received her MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees from Columbia University. Her graduate thesis on Jane Austen’s style won Columbia’s Miron Cristo-Loveanu Prize for best Master’s Essay. For Columbia University’s Literature Humanities website, she co-created a multimedia resource to support the study of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Her undergraduate course on fiction and suspense, “Nineteenth-Century British Fiction and The Unexpected,” earned honors for course design. In her own research, Dr. Aschkenes asks: ‘how does the style of fiction reflect the ways our five senses take in the world around us?’ She has given talks on wide-ranging subjects such as business leadership, self expression, and fabrics in Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Working with the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, Dr. Aschkenes served as mentor in their Teaching Fellows program. She is dedicated to working with young writers —whether young in years or simply young at heart— to help them share their personal stories.

Saturday, February 10th

10:00 – 11:00 am

Price: Free with registration

Location: Community Building Auditorium

Community Building Auditorium