top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Curricular matters

Once again, Jane Austen has been roped into something that she might better be left out of.

Judging from my daily Austen Google alert, our most recent tangentially-Austen-related teapot tempest, this one courtesy of our friends in the UK, centers on remarks that Jenni Murray, host of a daily BBC radio show called Woman’s Hour, made last week at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

Asked about the prevalence of Internet porn, Dame Jenni – yes, she’s a titled radio host – suggested a rather surprising addition to the high school curriculum.

“We give our kids Jane Austen to read and we say, ‘OK let’s analyze it,’ ” Murray said. “Why not show them pornography and teach them how to analyze it?”

Leaving aside the merits of Murray’s proposal – and I think I could come up with one or two counterarguments – let’s just note the way in which she evokes “Jane Austen” as an implicit stand-in for all things staid, decorous, high-brow, and academic. You know – the opposite of the stuff kids really want to consume, like Internet porn.

Sigh. This is why it’s so hard to convince non-readers of Austen that she’s actually funny. And even -- dare I say it -- kind of sexy.


Related Posts

See All



bottom of page