Deborah Yaffe

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A Janeite in STEM

By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 2 2019 01:00PM

All the talk these days about the decline of the humanities can be pretty depressing for us English-major types, who persist in believing that literature and the arts are just as important as computers and . . . numbers and . . . stuff. No STEM without flowers! (OK, maybe another slogan. Suggestions welcome.)


In that context, it’s refreshing to learn that the mechanical engineer recently named the first female chancellor of the Arizona campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which trains its students for careers in aviation and aerospace, is a Janeite.


According to an interview in the local newspaper, Swedish-born Anette Karlsson “is a fan of Jane Austen novels. Her three favorites: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.”


Can’t quarrel with her taste, but alas, the interviewer does not probe further for the kinds of details inquiring Janeites want to know. Age at first reading? Favorite characters? Team Elinor or Team Marianne? No way to tell.


For now, we’ll just have to settle for the comforting knowledge that even in a hotbed of STEM, the humanities still live: Someone responsible for training future pilots and aerospace engineers also likes to curl up with a good book.


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