Presentation Title

Desirable Masculinity: Jane Austen and the British Navy

Presentation Type

Poster

Keywords

Masculinity, Jane Austen

Department

History

Major

History

Abstract

The enchanting romances found throughout Jane Austen’s many novels constitute a significant source of her popular appeal. However, it is the timely social commentary woven into each story that constitutes her novel’s enduring relevance. Persuasion, Austen’s final novel, serves to comment upon society’s changing standards of masculinity through a group of naval officers. In this paper, I examine the way in which the naval officers embody a new masculinity that is rooted in their national service and middle-class work ethic. The social respectability of naval officers in combination with their economic status challenges the value of the aristocracy. Likewise, the naval officers represent the ideal of the self-made man, as popularized by historical figures such as Lord Nelson. Through her band of naval officers, Austen demonstrates a new index of masculine worth that still upholds traditional aristocratic values while undercutting the importance of land ownership.

Faculty Mentor

Tuan Hoang

Funding Source or Research Program

Not Identified

Location

Waves Cafeteria

Start Date

29-3-2019 2:00 PM

End Date

29-3-2019 3:00 PM

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Mar 29th, 2:00 PM Mar 29th, 3:00 PM

Desirable Masculinity: Jane Austen and the British Navy

Waves Cafeteria

The enchanting romances found throughout Jane Austen’s many novels constitute a significant source of her popular appeal. However, it is the timely social commentary woven into each story that constitutes her novel’s enduring relevance. Persuasion, Austen’s final novel, serves to comment upon society’s changing standards of masculinity through a group of naval officers. In this paper, I examine the way in which the naval officers embody a new masculinity that is rooted in their national service and middle-class work ethic. The social respectability of naval officers in combination with their economic status challenges the value of the aristocracy. Likewise, the naval officers represent the ideal of the self-made man, as popularized by historical figures such as Lord Nelson. Through her band of naval officers, Austen demonstrates a new index of masculine worth that still upholds traditional aristocratic values while undercutting the importance of land ownership.