Amy Shank presents Jane Austen lecture

WVC Speaks lecture series: Amy Shank presents "Jane Austen is A Serious Writer of Comedy"

Media Contacts: Randy Mitchell, education and career planning director, 509.682.6858, or Libby Siebens, executive director community relations, 509.682.6436 (Mon. – Thurs.)

November 9, 2015

Amy ShankThe first Wenatchee Valley College Speaks lecture series will feature English faculty Amy Shank and "Jane Austen is A Serious Writer of Comedy" on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m. in McArthur Lecture Hall, Wenatchi Hall room 2105. The lecture will also be available via interactive television on the WVC at Omak campus in Heritage Building room 901. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Shank will discuss Jane Austen's work, which, like the work of many of her female contemporaries, is often devalued as "lesser" work because she wrote as a woman, about women's lives. This devaluation deprives Austen of the reputation she deserves as a writer of serious literature; her commentaries on feminism, economics, family structure and social justice often go unnoticed – or are diminished by critics because of her gender, or because of the fact that she wrote comedic works.

Shank argues that Austen's work holds great importance because she was a woman, because of her excellence as a writer and because her commentary on the family as a vital social structure still holds true. Her writings underline the importance of women's roles within the family and in society at large, echoing the opinions of her immediate predecessor, Mary Wollstonecraft, and providing commentary that would inform novelists of both genders – including the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and others.

Austen should be considered a major author – not just a writer of pretty tales to be dismissed as "chick lit."

Shank is an ardent reader of Jane Austen's works and a full-time English professor at WVC. She has been a teacher for 14 years, teaching all grade levels (except preschool) in Mexico, the U.S. and the U.K. At WVC she teaches composition and literature. Shank earned her B.A. in English from Eastern Washington University, her Master in Teaching from Whitworth and her M.A. in English from EWU. Her areas of study are Victorian Literature, Romantic Literature, American Literature and women's memoir writing. She is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English, the Modern Language Association and the Jane Austen Society of North America.

WVC Speaks, inspired by TED Talks, creates a forum for faculty and staff to share their expertise and passion for their subject matter with their colleagues and invited guests across campus and disciplines. The series will present a wide range of academic and topical presentations, and celebrates the breadth of knowledge and experience in the WVC community.

The next presentation will feature earth science faculty Dr. Ralph Dawes giving a presentation on earthquakes on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m.

WVC Speaks is sponsored by the WVC Professional Development Committee.