This semester marks the 20-year anniversary of my first semester of teaching a class by myself. Before that I was a teaching assistant (from undergrad to grad school). So, as I type this post on Labor Day, I will share with you some thoughts on my academic labor.
Just kidding. I’m going to talk about what I’ve been doing on my sabbatical and the months leading up to it. This is the first time I have been on sabbatical. Due to my many positions since earning my PhD I wasn’t eligible for a sabbatical until this year. So, it’s about time that I take this year to work on my book, Jane Austen’s Monsters.
I’ve been kicking around an idea for such a book since I taught Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters in 2015. Then I read Donald Greene’s 1975 essay on Austen and monsters (which doesn’t actually mention any archetypal monsters). Then I read a bunch of monster theory. And finally I taught a course on Austen’s monsters (during the first semester of the pandemic, and online!). After all of that, I was like, you know what, I’m gonna write this book.
And I am.
I have been writing the book officially (while not yet officially on sabbatical) since May 2022. I had planned to start sooner, but university obligations (and tribulations) slowed me down. Instead, I spent the last academic year gathering research and mapping out a plan for writing.
In May, after teaching an entire course on monsters (not Austen’s, just monsters in general), I was pumped to start writing the section of my introduction that is just about monster studies and monster theory. That was so much fun!
But then I realized something about my book outline. I had pushed the monster mashups chapter to the end of the book because I wanted to spend most of the time on Austen’s works and writings about her life. I put adaptations at the end as if they were an afterthought.
How wrong was that when they were the things that inspired me in the first place?
So in mid-July I decided to revise the outline and bring adaptations into every chapter. No more separating Austen from adaptations. It’s time to talk about them together. That’s what I am now doing, and it feels so right. Adaptation has always been my thing. Why was I denying its rightful place in this book?
Now that I’m on a track I feel better about, I’m excited to share that I’ve allowed myself to go down the rabbit hole of Austen adaptations and fanfic. It’s delightful. I can’t believe how many monster derivatives there are!
So I am now reading more novels than I originally intended to, which is slowing down the writing progress but expanding the content in the book and my thinking on “Jane Austen’s Monsters.”
I’m happy to say that I am writing a book that represents Austen, adapters of her work, her fans, and me!
Wanna know what I’m reading? Follow me on Goodreads.
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