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Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity

August 08—December 04, 2016
Event Description

Shakespeare and Austen are both on a first-name basis with a world that speaks glowingly of "Will" and "Jane." From that starting point, Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity takes a close look at these authors' literary afterlives—and finds some surprising parallels. For both, adaptations and parodies in different eras helped popularize their work and make it more approachable (think Shakespeare Undead and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). Milestone events also increased their fame: for Shakespeare, the much-heralded 1769 Shakespeare Jubilee, and for Austen, a burst of 1990s films and a watershed BBC production. From portraits to porcelain collectibles, branded merchandise, and gravestone rubbings, these two authors have traced intriguingly similar arcs in their posthumous fame. Explore their stories and the nature of celebrity in the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare's death and the 199th anniversary of Austen’s.