Modernist Jany Eyre? (Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Annual Convention)
Coming to Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, for the first time, one may be struck by its apparently forward-looking elements, ones that do not seem to line up with expectations for early Victorian novels. In terms of the novel's explorations of inner consciousness, one observer finds that Jane Eyre is a precursor of modernist authors such as Proust, Woolf, and Joyce. Furthermore, Jane's keen awareness of women's equality with men in terms of the right to education, access to the wider world, and happiness in a relationship has distinctly feminist overtones. But may Jane Eyre be classified as a modernist and feminist work of literature? After all, many aspects of the story follow conventional novelistic features such as a woman's search for fulfillment in marriage, and the writing style resembles that of other Victorian novels; narrative features even hearken back to fairy tales and romance. Thus, the question arises, is Jane Eyre essentially a novel of its time, or may we better understand it as a harbinger of literary modernity that anticipates future literary and social developments? Please submit 200-word abstracts through your new or previous Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) user account by going to https://www.buffalo.edu/nemla.html and following the links.