persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal On-Line, which was launched into cyberspace in June, 1999, may be considered analogous to “the large modern circular table which Emma had introduced at Hartfield” (347). Emma wielded her power and persuaded her father to use this bit of modern furniture “instead of the small-sized Pembroke”; and, although the collective staff at Persuasions cannot boast to be as handsome, clever, or rich as Emma Woodhouse, we have obviously persuaded more and more scholars, educators, students, and general readers to “use” our wired publication as well as Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, which is published annually for members of the Jane Austen Society of North America. We are happy to report that during the November, 1999, over 1,000 readers per week were persuaded to pass their time “pleasantly” by checking into the JASNA site.
This issue of Persuasions On-Line presents 8 provocative essays selected for timeliness and general interest. The three lead articles in this issue were major presentations at the 21st Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society, and they represent the varieties of discourse that centered around Austen’s Emma. Susan Morgan’s essay on the geographical limitations of Emma’s neighborhood serves as a counterpoint to Suzanne Juhasz’s exploration of the author’s milieu—that is, the position of “Austen writing” and the-author-in-search-of-a-heroine. Juliet McMaster and Victoria Kortes-Papp present a point-counterpoint essay that seeks to involve the reader in a kind of hypertext—that is, Professors McMaster and Kortes-Papp describe the process of annotation and illustration as a pedagogical enterprise and a potential learning tool.
The papers in the “Miscellany” examine texts other than Emma and employ a range of theoretical approaches. Melissa Schaub contemplates irony and politics—Toryism, Jacobinism, and feminism—in Northanger Abbey; in her reader-response essay, Marlene Kondelik compares Mansfield Park to Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove; Geoff Chapman, in a revisionist argument, suggests that, indeed, it was Elinor—not Marianne—who should have married Colonel Brandon; and, focusing on social history, Allison Thompson, a dance historian, takes us into the rarified atmosphere of the late eighteenth-century ballroom. Finally, René Goldman reflects on the way one Austrian scholar recently used the pride/prejudice and sense/sensibility antinomies as an explanation of late nineteenth/early twentieth century Viennese thought.
Welcome to JASNA’s large modern circular table—Persuasions On-Line.