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WWJD

March 8, 2008   Sorry for the delay, Reader, but I assure you I was doing plenty of writing. Last week was the busiest week of my semester, largely because of my Jane Austen seminar. Because the class is a seminar, much of the workload is based on participation and presentations. However, we each also have to write two essays: one on an Austen film adaptation and one on an Austen novel. My first essay was due Monday, and I wrote about Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice (2005). This has been one of my favorite films long before this class, so I really enjoyed writing about it. Basically I argued that Wright mimics Austen's ironic narrator through eye-level tracking shots and that he updates P&P for a new audience by adding romanticism to the story.

The film essay required a presentation using clips and stills from the film to illustrate my point. We were to set up a tutorial with the Multimedia Presentation Center to make the actual presentation. This meeting was supposed to take 30 minutes. For various reasons, technical and otherwise, mine took five hours. The intern who helped me claimed that "this has never happened before," and that I was truly "an odd case." But that's always the way it is, isn't it? Things work perfectly until it's your turn.

Anyway, my presentation went fine, and I received an A on the paper. You may not believe this, but although I am an English major, I have never received an A on an English essay at Hamilton before. Many A minuses, many B pluses, one B, and even a dreaded C plus, but never an A. The English paper is known to be pretty tough. As a result, my A made me immensely happy for a few hours.

During the week I was still working on this Austen essay, I was at lunch one day with Kat and Becky from the seminar. We were talking about Pride and Prejudice, both the novel and the film adaptations. In the months we've been reading, writing and watching Austen literature, the eighteenth-century speech and morals had been slowly working their way into our lives. I found myself talking about Charlotte Lucas "settling" for Mr. Collins in my Creative Nonfiction class. I began using words like "propriety" and "behooves" more than once. In Becky's essay on the novel Pride and Prejudice, I laughed out loud when she wrote that Darcy had "ten thousand a year" (a true Austen phrase). Somehow at lunch, the phrase "WWJD" was brought up: what would Jane do? And laughing, the idea spiraled off into tangents about using Austen rules at Hamilton. "Of course it would be most improper to make oneself a cup of tea in Commons without offering tea to one's lunch table."

"WWJD" has become the catchphrase for our Austen seminar. The next idea? T-shirts. On the front: a tea cup with "WWJD" underneath. On the back: "What would Jane do? Austen Seminar '08."