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Susan Celia Greenfield
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Entries by Susan Celia Greenfield

Jane Austen Weekly: The End

(4) Comments | Posted December 20, 2012 | 5:26 PM

"Is this the promised end?" Is doomsday here?

So asks the Earl of Kent when Shakespeare's great and fallen King Lear appears carrying the murdered Cordelia in his arms. "Howl, howl, howl, howl!" Lear cries at the unspeakable horror of outliving his child.

Given the recent spate of American...

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Jane Austen Weekly: The Truth About Irony

(5) Comments | Posted December 7, 2012 | 1:06 PM

These days, I'm having a lot of trouble with irony. Sometimes I'm even afraid of the concept. Imagine that -- a literature professor afraid of irony. Isn't that ironic?

Why am I afraid? First, there's the basic problem of definition. In most literary critical uses of "irony," M.H. Abrams writes,...

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Jane Austen Weekly: The Burden of Gratitude

(38) Comments | Posted November 20, 2012 | 6:19 PM

My class has just finished discussing Mansfield Park, and we are about to start Emma. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, the combination is fortuitous. Among other things, both novels depict the pain of gratitude.

Perhaps "pain" is not the word you associate with gratitude. But I don't much like feeling grateful....

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Jane Austen Weekly: Spare Me the Political Narrative

(3) Comments | Posted November 14, 2012 | 6:52 PM

Phew. The election is over. I was looking forward to some respite from the rhetoric.

But no, there it was again, smack in the center on the New York Times op-ed page: the word "narrative" used to describe what a successful president must produce. The voices that "will write the...

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Jane Austen Weekly: Jane Austen Votes for President

(15) Comments | Posted November 2, 2012 | 10:39 AM

It is not so far-fetched to think that Jane Austen might have an opinion about America's imminent election.

Austen's "devotees" have always been "inclined to see her ghost," Claudia L. Johnson explains in her wonderful new book Jane Austen's Cults and Cultures. Even admirers who don't make contact tend to...

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Jane Austen Weekly: Child Poverty in Mansfield Park

(12) Comments | Posted October 26, 2012 | 8:14 PM

Mansfield Park begins with a question that is still depressingly familiar. What can be done to help a disadvantaged child? Though 22 percent of American children live in poverty, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney has paid sustained attention to them.

For that we...

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Jane Austen Weekly: Mitt Romney Is No Mr. Darcy

(37) Comments | Posted October 19, 2012 | 3:36 PM

Let me say that again: Mitt Romney is no Mr. Darcy.

To be fair, neither is Barack Obama, but Romney reminds me a lot more of Darcy than Obama does. And since I'm in love with Mr. Darcy (as are many of my female Fordham students), and since "love" is...

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Jane Austen Weekly: Elizabeth Bennet's Brain Scan

(13) Comments | Posted October 11, 2012 | 7:15 PM

A few days ago my husband woke me by yelling, "They are talking about that Jane Austen brain thing on NPR!"

Last week, I wrote about "that Jane Austen brain thing" -- a study at the Stanford Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging (CNI) which has been...

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Jane Austen Weekly: The Brain and Mind

(14) Comments | Posted October 5, 2012 | 3:11 PM

Since I wrote about Jane Austen and sex organs last week, it's only fair that I give the brain and mind equal time. (Plus, it's a good excuse to avoid the presidential debate.)

No problem here. Among her countless accomplishments, Austen is making news in the field...

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The Jane Austen Weekly: Sex Organs and Sexual Difference

(9) Comments | Posted September 27, 2012 | 1:56 PM

Okay. Now I've got your attention.

I know. You think I'm just trying to enlarge my audience. What better way than by shamelessly trotting out some genitals?

You are right! In my defense, though, sex organs have been making the news lately. First there was the publication of Naomi...

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The Jane Austen Weekly: 'Sense and Sensibility' and the Occupy Anniversary

(15) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 7:46 PM

As usual, the vast majority of students in my current Austen class are female. Last week one of the few brave men approached me and asked: "How can I connect with Austen's novels? They seem to be written for women." His question was honest, familiar, and well-timed. Here's how I...

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The Jane Austen Weekly: 'Northanger Abbey' and the Presidential Campaign

(9) Comments | Posted September 13, 2012 | 5:19 PM

As should surprise nobody, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama keep accusing each other of lying. That is "extreme and untrue," the Obama camp said when Romney questioned the president's position on God. He just "delivered more empty promises and false attacks," a Romney spokesman said after...

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We Shouldn't Have It All

(26) Comments | Posted July 27, 2012 | 6:46 PM

The revelation that Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's newly-appointed CEO, is pregnant has ignited yet another discussion about whether or not this high profile future mother will manage to "have it all." If Anne-Marie Slaughter's recent Atlantic Monthly cover story "Why Women Still Can't Have it All" is any indication,...

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Women and Film: Cinderella Redux at the Oscars

(8) Comments | Posted March 1, 2012 | 3:50 PM

Now that all the hoopla is over, I have to say I'm glad "The Descendants" lost the Oscar for Best Picture. Don't get me wrong; I love to watch George Clooney, especially when he is befuddled and heartbroken by a woman. What disturbed me was the movie's denigration of the...

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I'm Bringing Envy Back

(5) Comments | Posted February 23, 2012 | 12:54 PM

The signs, promos for the new season of the cable television show Mad Men, are plastered all over Manhattan: ENVY IS BACK. I'm glad to hear it. For me, envy never went away.

I suffer, you see, from chronic, unrelenting envy, a condition I have always tried to hide. Lately,...

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