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Our Project

Jane Austen's Desk provides users with a window into Austen's world and a space for scholars, fans, and general readers around the world to explore and learn, as well as connect and collaborate. This is an interpretive vision of Austens writing space and traveling desk, which works as a hub for hosting historical, musical, literary, material culture, and philosophical sources in as interactive a manner as possible.

The prototype for this website simulates Jane Austen's imaginative world and network of influences as of Tuesday, March 30, 1813. Our features and content underscore her composition process, as she had just published Pride and Prejudice and was composing Mansfield Park. Focusing on Mansfield Park also enables us to engage with important contemporary issues, particularly issues surrounding female authorship and mobility, the transatlantic slave trade and the Austen family's disputed role in it, and the family involvement in the War of 1812.

Jane Austen's Desk was funded by two grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities Digital Projects for the Public. This prototype launched in the spring of 2024.

About Our Organization

The Jane Austen Collaborative is a non-profit 501(c)3 with close ties to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and a wide network of community partnerships, including local museums, libraries, K-12 schools, and a theater. The Jane Austen Collaborative is the umbrella program that sponsors multiple Austen-related educational projects, including the annual in-person Jane Austen Summer Program, the Jane Austen & Co, live web video series, Jane Austen for Teachers programming, and the new Jane Austen's Desk website.

Our first project was the Jane Austen Summer Program (JASP), an annual award-winning educational event that has been serving educators, students, and the general public in NC and beyond since 2012. JASP is a symposium-style event offering programming that reflects its attendees' interests. Key characteristics of our four-day event include the plenary format, Context Corners (10-minute visual introductions to aspects of history and culture), break-out discussion groups, film screenings, hands-on workshops, pedagogy sessions, original theatrical productions, and a Regency Ball. Unlike more formal academic conferences or fan conventions, JASP unifies scholarly attention to Austen's oeuvre with the enthusiasm and passion of her fans.

All Jane Austen Collaborative projects strive to serve both academic and general communities, uniting academic rigor with public humanities accessibility and general literary vivacity. We hope to model the best in public-facing humanities initiatives, demonstrating the relevance of literature to other aspects of life and culture and an openness to debate and discussion of multiple viewpoints.