Austen devotees seek like-minded readers

By H.M. Cauley For the AJC When it comes to literary staying power, there aren't many authors…

Georgia (Aug 27, 2012) — By H.M. Cauley


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For the AJC

When it comes to literary staying power, there aren't many authors in the sophisticated sphere of Jane Austen. The Regency-era writer penned only six books, but they have remained classics and been the basis for television dramas, movies and plays. They've also inspired what Kennesaw State English Professor Laura Dabundo dubs "the Jane Austen military industrial complex": works that put favorite characters in new, dramatic plot lines, on paper or film. (One even went so far as to turn Mr. Darcy into a zombie hunter.) 

"It all came together in the '90s with the BBC and American Austen movies," said Dabundo, a specialist in English Romanticism who teaches Austen courses. "And since then, it's exploded. Just why is the $64,000 question. For a lot of people, the movies came first. Colin Firth in 'Pride and Prejudice' is everybody's favorite."

Whether they're Firth fanatics or fans of the original stories, Austen followers have kindred spirits in the Atlanta chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). Since 1996, these loyal readers have met monthly for discussions, teas and celebrations of all thing Austen.

While the national group boasts about 4,000, the Atlanta chapter has 59 dues-paying members from around metro Atlanta. In a bid to recruit new members, the group will make its debut at the AJC Decatur Book Festival this weekend with three adjoining tents packed with 16 Austen-inspired authors and books from another 12. 


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit