NORFOLK, Neb. – The timelessness of an early 19th century novelist will be discussed during a presentation in early February at Northeast Community College. English Instructor Kristi Rastede will speak on “Pride, Prejudice, Persuasion, and Prying: Jane Austen in the Twenty-First Century,” as part of Northeast’s Hawk Talks lectures series. Her presentation will be held on Thur., Feb. 9, at 7 p.m., in the lower level of Union 73 on the Norfolk campus.
Austen was a novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique, and comment on ordinary life and the manners of the English middle class at the end of the 18th century. She continues to be relevant through reprints of her books, movie adaptations, and revisionist stories.
Rastede said her presentation will begin by briefly discussing the primary sources of the criticism Austen’s works did or did not receive.
“It then moves to the themes that are present in three of her novels, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion, and discusses why these themes and novels remain so popular today,” she said. “If time allows, there will also be a brief discussion of the revisionist storylines that continue to be published with particular focus on Sonali Dev's published novels.”
Rastede has admired Jane Austen since childhood “before I realized that what I was enjoying was Jane Austen.” Her respect for the author has continued into adulthood and was emphasized as part of her graduate work.
“I think of the movie Clueless in the 1990s. My teenage self loved the movie. Once I started my graduate work, I was officially introduced to Jane Austen and I realized Clueless is Emma! From there, my love of Austen's novels has only increased. While I most certainly would not claim to be an expert, I have spent a considerable amount of my adult life thinking about and reading Austen.”
Northeast’s Hawk Talks originated in 2021 after Social Sciences Instructor Paul Muncy asked his colleagues to see if they would have an interest in developing a series of public lectures for both students and the general public. Rastede said when Muncy inquired on topics for the spring semester, she immediately went to Austen so that she could share her love of her novels with the community.
“This presentation combines my two interest areas, English and history, by starting with the primary sources available that discuss the critical reviews of Austen’s work and moving into the enjoyment of reading,” she said. “In a world that is hectic on a good day, enjoying a novel, even if reading it for the fifteenth time, is a privilege that not everyone gets, and every pass through a novel is an opportunity to enjoy and learn something new that was unseen before.”
Hawk Talks are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served beginning at 6:30 p.m.