The Exhibition

Austen's Accomplished Women: Women's Education in Regency England is an online exhibition exploring the typical education of women in the upper classes, as described in Jane Austen's six completed novels. Using examples of women's education portrayed in Austen's books, Austen's Accomplished Women highlights female gender roles and women's lifelong profession of making a good marriage.

From Elizabeth and Mary Bennet's skills on the pianoforte to the modesty and constancy of Anne Elliot (Persuasion) and Fanny Price (Mansfield Park), Austen suggests that women's accomplishments, in the form of music, needlework, drawing, languages, and dancing, are part of a well-founded education. However, Austen offsets her portrayals of successful women with a series of "failed" models, who often double as antagonists in the novels. For instance, in Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet is a frivolous girl who disgraces her family with her ill-advised elopement with Mr. Wickham; and Northanger Abbey's Isabella Thorpe spends her time reading scandalous novels and hoping to marry for money.

The Author/Curator

This online exhibition was created by Serena Ypelaar for the fourth year seminar "The Making of the Digital Age in Canada and Beyond", at the University of Ottawa.

Serena Ypelaar earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and English Literature in 2016. Over the course of her studies, she has focused primarily on British and French colonial and political history as well as British Literature. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she is passionate about heritage preservation. Apart from Jane Austen, her favourite writers include J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare, Lemony Snicket, C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, and John Keats. 

If you have any questions/comments or are interested in contributing to this project, please email sypel053@uottawa.ca.