• Deborah Yaffe

Among the greats

For college professors, accustomed to lecturing to captive audiences of sometimes disengaged undergraduates, it’s a badge of honor to make the roster of The Great Courses, a company that offers lifelong learners the chance to voluntarily (!) access audio and video lecture programs on a range of subjects.


Devoney Looser, the Jane-Austen-scholar-cum-roller-derby-whiz who makes an appearance in Among the Janeites, has now reached that exalted pantheon with a Great Course on – well, you know.


Devoney’s course consists of twenty-four half-hour lectures on Austen’s life, work, and historical context, including individual sessions on the Juvenilia, Lady Susan, Sanditon, and each of the six completed novels. Additional lectures address Regency historical and cultural topics, from courtship and marriage to money and social class. The course is currently available at a heavy discount: $59.95 for instant video (down from the usual $234.95) and $79.95 for DVDs (down from $269.95).


Devoney, a professor of English at Arizona State University who was recently named a Regents Professor, the highest honor the university gives to its faculty, is the author or editor of nine books. To Janeites, her best-known work is 2017’s The Making of Jane Austen, which examines the development of Austen’s reputation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, before the modern era of obsessive Austen fandom. (We might refer to this period as B.C. -- Before Colin.)


I’ve attended a number of Devoney’s thoroughly enjoyable talks at Jane Austen Society of North America events, so I’m sure her new course will be both intellectually rigorous and a lot of fun. (Indeed, she already has two five-star reviews.) No indication that roller derby skates are involved this time, but maybe she’ll get to that in her next Great Course.

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Copyright Deborah Yaffe, 2021