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Parr Center Presents: Adelle Waldman
September 26, 2018 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Reading Austen and Eliot in the #MeToo Era
Adelle Waldman, author of the acclaimed novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, discusses the moral orientation of the Victorian novel of manners in the context of the #MeToo movement. 19th century novelists are frequently associated with prudish sexual mores, but Waldman argues that their approach to the analysis of romantic life was far more concerned with serious ethical issues than it was about the enforcement of arbitrary notions of correct behavior. Against the background of the individualist thinking of the great 20th century novelists—particularly in the Bellow-Roth tradition, in which sex is seen primarily as a means of self-expression and fulfillment—the refusal, in the #MeToo era, to give certain individuals a pass for egregious personal behavior because those individuals are brilliant, creative, or successful, feels like uncharted territory. But, in many ways, this is a return to an older, more relational mode of thinking familiar to the readers of the great 19th century novels. Waldman discusses the approach these novelists—Austen and Eliot, especially—took to analyzing personal behavior, noting the relevance of this approach to the current moment.