Katie MacLean

Project Title: Adapting Jane Austen on Stage: 1895-2022

Jane Austen remains one of the most widely adapted authors after Shakespeare. Much work already exists on screen adaptations of her novels, but very little serious attention has yet been paid to theatrical adaptations.

My doctoral project will investigate how and why Austen’s novels have been adapted for the stage over the past 200 years. It will hold a specific focus on ‘queer’ stage adaptations because these are particularly illuminating in terms of how the medium can reveal original thematic preoccupations with gender, identity, and indeed queerness in Austen’s novels. This research will address how the time, place, and socio-political conditions of a production influence its presentation of Austen, how themes of class, gender and queerness intersect on stage, and why cross-dressing is a common convention across time periods.

This research is of urgent importance as the lack of scholarly attention to theatrical adaptations – and particularly queer theatrical adaptations – of Austen upholds several heteronormative assumptions about Austen’s work and its readers. This research will reveal insights into the theatrical space as a medium through which canonical texts can be adapted ‘queerly’, due to its fluid nature, concern with performance and suspension of temporality.


Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: Literary Studies

University: University of Stirling

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